solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)
Anybody have an old Win98 USB mass storage device driver? I've set up an real Win98 box on the machine that used to be door.murkworks.net - it's a P166 from 1996 and accordingly hilarious. I have USB running on it, but not drivers for USB disk drives, and I want that working, in no small part because the non-lulz non-vintage-games part of this project is having a (the?) last working 5.25" floppy drive for PC-DOS/MS-DOS diskettes.

(I like having the ability to read all antique media. Need anything off a Commodore PET floppy? In theory, I can do that for you, as long as it's double-density or less, and yes, they had a 1mb PET floppy at one point.)

The machine is named Blue, drive D is named Purple, and it's registered to Amélie Lacroix and the password is oneshotonekill because of course it had to be. Also, the desktop starts out with weapons and such but turns into widowtracer art because we all know what's really going on here.

It's also much quieter now, particularly for a machine from 1996, as I've replaced all the fans and improved the venting. Two of the fans were outright dead - the CPU and GPU fans, so that's terrifying. (I think the CPU fan may have worked occasionally, but don't hold me to it. Also I had already improved the venting some, even with the old fans - I just improved it more now.)

A couple of power supply capacitors should be replaced too, they're bulging a bit, and I had to order them - VetCo had none of the right caps in stock. Ah well, I tried.
solarbird: (Lecturing)
This is a presentation at GDC 2017 about virtual worlds and augmented reality and it is entirely worth your 55 minutes whether you are in game design or arguably even more if you are not.
solarbird: (korra-fruck-out)

Apparently, sometime in the 1980s, TEAC – a legitimate, major, respected maker of audio gear – thought it would be a great idea to combine reel-to-reel loading technology with audiocassette frames.

Yes, it’s a compact audiocassette where you load the reels individually. And you can swap them out! I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THIS UP LOOK AT IT THIS IS LUDICROUS:

The selling point was presumably size of the little mini-reels vs. size of an entire cassette frame. But… honestly, how did this ever make it to market? Particularly given what a pain in the ass it is to actually load into a cassette frame and use. Watch the video, it’s pretty much hilarious.

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solarbird: (music)

A while ago, I saw Tony Fabris of Vixy & Tony using a ridiculously large Windows tablet to display his lyrics and sheet music. He’d also whipped together some software to organise it and such. It was awesome.

The trick was he’d got the tablet relatively cheap, because it was huge, but also the first release of Windows 8 on tablet, and there was something weird about it I think? I forget. It already didn’t exist anymore, but he had one.

Anyway, I’ve been watching for a similar opportunity ever since, because I kind of realised there was an arbitrage opportunity floating around right about… well, let’s go to the napkin:

See, past a point, as tablets get larger, they become less useful as tablets. Above 11″ or so, they rapidly become both unacceptably awkward and heavy, particularly at widescreen ratios. Oh, sure, you can get a keyboard, use it as a really awkward laptop, and a lot of companies are making laptop “convertibles” now as people try to figure out that format. But even done well, that’s basically a laptop that can make do as a shitty tablet, all at laptop prices.

Now, on the other hand, if you want something to sit in front of you on a music rack and display your chords or whatever, you want that extra, impractical-for-carrying-around size. And you don’t mind a little more weight, because it’s a lot lighter than a bunch of three-ring binders.

And LCD screens in those sizes and ratios are everywhere now from OEMs, because laptops. So everybody keeps trying to make tablets at those larger sizes because IT CAN’T MISS AM I RIGHT? Except every time it’s the same plan, it’s the same plan, and everybody ends up on fire and dumping these things.

So the trick is to find something in that little red bar, at the end of the too-heavy, too-big-for-normal-people 13-14″ downslope-of-heaviness while still in the awesome-for-sheetmusic range of musician happiness, all at the right oh-shit-this-was-a-bad-idea-get-rid-of-these-things price range.

There’ve been a few qualifying tablets floating around pretty much constantly since I saw Tony’s, all from one or another GeneroMaker, but they’ve all been too junky for one reason or another. Bad screens, bad battery life, double-digit DOA rates, whatever.

Until possibly now. Meet The Latest Iteration Of This Mistake, at $150 on Amazon right now.


3rd Generation iPod for scale because I left my sonic upstairs

The photo here isn’t great, but I don’t want to move the tablet because it’s doing the first-time charge. But trust me: it’s huge. It’s slightly over three times the size of Anna’s Kindle. It’s got a good screen, it’s heavier than some laptops but it’s thin, it’s got 5-7 (claimed) hours of battery life, decent viewing angles, and it’s running Jelly Bean so can talk to the usual app stores. It’s got USB and expansion and all that. The onboard sound is terrible and it’s not super fast, but that’s not what I need it for.

And almost all the positive reviews are from musicians using it for exactly this.

There will probably be more of these, but this is the first one I’ve seen since that old Windows tablet of Tony’s that meets all the requirements for such appropriately little dough. I’ve had it for all of a few hours, so this isn’t a review, but it is your notice: the arbitrage opportunity you may have been waiting for is now here.

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solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)

I’ve been doing a bunch of work to make my formerly-terrible phone view for my blog into something that’s better on a phone.

What do you think, sirs? Additions include navigation to other parts of the site (finally), a mobile contact form that works, easier access to the mobile music page, throwing mobile users of video over to my youtube page, things like that.

And two questions:

1. As a phone user, do you want to see this view instead of the desktop view? I think at this point (since it’s not just locked into the pale-blue-on-pale-blue madness which was Carrington Mobile and also lets you visit the rest of the site) it’s kind of reasonable so suggest that.

2. If you’re a tablet user, do you still get the desktop site? I want that. Tablets can handle desktop view. Phones, though – yeah, not as much.

Anyway, what do you think?

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solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

Check this out: listening to dead satellites. Or at least semi-dead satellites. These are satellites with dead batteries but with transmitters which turn on whenever the solar panels are in the right direction anyway. Some of the noises they make are weird and interesting.

I particularly like Transit 5B-5, launched 1964, for military navigation purposes. But recordings of many different satellites can be found at the link. Echos of the cold war – fitting, don’t you think, for the days surrounding the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

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solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)

I may have spent my Sunday off – my first day off in like three weeks – debugging UNIVAC Star Trek game code that was ported to TRS-80 Level II BASIC some decades ago. That may be a thing that happened.

(Well, I found some bugs. No, I did. One crashing! That doesn’t happen anymore. Also, now if you enter your name wrong, instead of hanging, it names you Captain Dunsel. It seemed appropriate.)

Here, have a copy of the audiocassette. Or a printout, if you’d prefer that. 16K required.

Did you know Level II BASIC’s built-in programme editor was based heavily on TECO? I feel a bit like Scarf Doctor stumbling across Shemp Doctor’s TARDIS console room and tin whistle. Or maybe it’s kind of like I spent Sunday afternoon flossing out my brain. For SCIENCE! Or something.

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solarbird: (music)

Okay, so people who have been out of the loop, Livejournal has gone through another purchase/”merger.” I know, I know, “Livejournal? Really? That’s still alive?” And you have a very good point.

But honestly this new ownership is the most responsive I’ve seen since Brad sold the place. They’ve been asking users what they want, they’ve put back in subject lines in comments, they’ve made all sorts of changes that people actually seem to want made.

Including, in response specifically to me, long-overdue resumption of support for Bandcamp embeds. That used to work, and stopped working, about three years ago? Whenever Bandcamp went to iframes for their players. Previous ownership didn’t answer questions about it. Current support just said ‘Okay!’ and “bandcamp embedding should work now!”

O.o

Which is the entire point of this post. Let’s see if this works, shall we?

eta: oh my gods it works. This hasn’t worked in three years. SEE HOW WE STOMP FOR… Livejournal?

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solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

“I repaired the light bulb.”
 

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solarbird: (korra-excited)

The other set of LED tape lights arrived. Initially they had less impact when tested; the window behind the baffles in the left on this photo don’t go as high as the baffle, so the top lights were a bit hidden. So I tapped in a bit of wood to raise it.

Here are four configurations I’ve already found I like quite a bit and am actually using at their appropriate times of day – the idea is that if I don’t have BRIGHT DAYLIGHT LIGHTS on at 2pm, I won’t look up and go “oh look it’s 3:30 and I have to be up at… eight!”

Click to enlarge in a separate tab.


Overnight


Sunset and Evening


DAYTIME!
(It really does feel like daylight in there.)


Evil!

The pictures are colour-manipulated a little to try to get at least in the neighbourhood of the correct colours; this was as close as I can get. The white areas around really the colours you see near them, not white. The orange is more orangy, the green is more greeny, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.

Exactly like snozzberries.

But yeah, $35 in LEDs – including the controllers and remotes. That doesn’t include power supplies; I had one already and paid $10 for a second one that can handle the full input requirements of the longer strand, so I do things now like put that one on cycle and leave the other one steady if I want. Just because I CAN.

Mood/time-lighting LEDs are awesome. :D

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solarbird: (molly-thats-not-good-green)

So. I have a Windows XP partition on my digital audio workstation. It exists to run two things: imgcopy and lightscribe. The machine spends 98% of its time in Ubuntu – but XP support is ending, and 0% is about to be the right amount of time.

However, received wisdom (and every other time I’ve done this) says you have to install Windows first, in a dual-boot configuration, then install clean Linux. A fresh install of Linux is unacceptable, because of reasons. Good reasons, not bullshit/ph33r reasons. Don’t argue with me about that; if you want to, you are wrong.

Now, if I have to, I can just yank the network drivers, not even turn on the external network card YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT EXTERNAL NETWORK CARD AGAIN REASONS and keep running XP, but wow, do I not want to do that. I’d like to turn this into a gaming machine as well – it has l33t specs in many ways, and with graphics card upgrades, could be a tiny goddess.

So. First: is there a way to keep my Linux partitions and still end up with a dual-boot machine? I know I can’t upgrade WinXP in place, but I have enough room in the current XP partitions for Windows 8.1, if the spec sheet isn’t lying. I don’t mind wiping the XP partitions, If there’s a way to accomplish this, that would be awesome; how, specifically, do I do it, and if you’re proposing a method, have you done it?

Keep in mind that given that the supposed XP-and-Vista binary to check your machine for Windows 8 compatibility failed to run because it doesn’t support XP, my confidence in my former employer is not high right now.

Second: Failing that, and I think we can assume failure there, are there reasons of which I’m unaware which would make it insane to install Windows 8 to a USB drive and just boot off that when I need to run Windows? Preferably a flash drive? Obviously I’m not an Enterprise Customer ™ so I don’t have Windows To Go, so only have Windows 8.1 Pro, but does it really matter since I’d be only using it on one computer ever?

Or, again, is that crazytalk? I don’t have USB 3.0, so this might be crazytalk, and honestly, I’d prefer a regular non-USB-drive install. But as a workaround, this would be fine. I’d have a Windows partition on the drive and use that for swap and My Documents and and and.

If neither of these are options, but you have another option that does not involve reinstalling Linux, I’m all ears. Maybe some sort of VM solution, I could see that. Please, tell me. Because right now I’m looking at lol winxp 4eva, or, more accurately, winxp until it decides it really wants to register again and can’t because it has no network, and tells me to DIAF.

I’d rather avoid that outcome. Because reasons.

Anybody?

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solarbird: (asumanga-yay)

So for the longest time, the comments count on the blog page have been totally wrong. A post could have 30 or 40 notes (comments, likes, etc) of various kinds and show up as zero or one comment in both archives and latest-post (“Blog”) views. The correct number would never appear.

For example, the two pictures I posted of George today showed up as zero notes combined; the real number was 14, mostly likes. But if you went to the post view or went directly to the individual post, you’d see everything.

There are reasons for this, having to do with custom comment types and echoing posts around and stuff. I’ve tried to fix it before, to hilarious failure sound effects, but now? I FINALLY HAVE IT YEEEEEEEEEEEEES :D

It still doesn’t count linked comments, which means comments on places like Livejournal and Dreamwidth aren’t included, but those are only linked-to comments anyway, so that’s fair.

Damn, this place has felt inappropriately lonely from the Blog view for a long, long time. Talk about discouraging new people from interacting!

Oh, hey, also – I have a mobile theme (Carrington) that kicks in on small devices. Mobile users, are you okay with that thing? It’s incredibly hard to customise so I haven’t. I could turn it off entirely, and you’d get the desktop view on your phone, but that’s… not super-optimal either. Any thoughts? (She asked on a Friday afternoon, when nobody reads anything… XD )

(I will say this for Carrington: it has counted comments correctly the whole time. So there, WordPress! XD )

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solarbird: (molly-oooooh)

Didn’t get as much done in studio yesterday as I wanted (it was also Cleaning Day) but made some good progress nonetheless. Here, the last week and a half has included too much annoyance: have a toy. (Clicking will take you to another site.)

If you have a browser that supports it (Safari on the iPad does), this is a fun and silly webpage-based synth. It calls itself a theremin, but it’s not, and is very little like one. But it totally is a cool little faux FM analogue synth with which you can make crazy noises of awesome. Go play. :D

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solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)

It’s not my personal style, so I haven’t visited it myself – The Underminer and I have… non-compliementary work ethe – but if you’re in the market for a well-appointed lair in the high desert, you could do far worse. Have a couple of sample pictures; the rest are at the link.


Hardened exterior and high vantage point
 

Interior design follows traditional mole-machine thematics

ht jwz

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solarbird: (mandolin-and-flutes)

I’m sick of talking about eye surgery and all that other crap. Remember the Bone Walker/Free Court of Seattle soundtrack album? Here, have a sneak preview work track – it’s the Irish tunes set which goes with Chapter 23 of Faerie Blood:

Normally I wouldn’t throw a work track out there, not even as a sneak preview, but yeah. This is missing the percussion, a male voice counting in individual tunes in Gaelic (because plot reasons), some chimes, and final assembly, but it has the right shape. You can see what rough beast caleighs its way towards Newfoundland in this.

That’s Ellen Eades on hammer dulcimer, Sunnie Larsen on fiddle, me on mandolin and Irish bozouki, and…

You may notice also notice a bass instrument in there. I’ve posted it separately:

I am so pleased with myself over this entirely accidental discovery. Everyone I’ve played it for has guessed standup bass or double-bass (including a professional cellist), but give your opinion; then guess what it actually is. I dare you. I double dog dare you.

I’ll tell you this much: it’s not synthetic, and it’s not a double-bass.

Actually, should I make this a contest? I haven’t done a contest in forever. First person to guess right – WHO HASN’T ALREADY BEEN TOLD AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – gets a download of any album I have on Bandcamp, including this one once it comes out, which it hasn’t yet. Go!

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solarbird: (music)

Sometimes, late at night, I discover things. Sometimes they are hilarious things. Sometimes they are hilarious things that are awesome and end up on albums.

This is one of those times.

And everybody is in bed and I have nobody to play it to, and I can’t post it, because unfinished project (because, oh yeah, this is going on the soundtrack album) so I won’t link that in public.

Dammit.

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solarbird: (music)

Solarbird: I ordered a metal aluminium NO Solicitors sign for the bottom of the driveway. $27.
Solarbird: Because we just got another one and do not want
Solarbird: And it has a stake and I imagine that if it’s at the bottom of the driveway and they see that sign and look up the climb to our front door they’ll go, “…yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah… okay.”
Taliesin: They’re climing all the way up there just to bug a known supervillan?
Solarbird: I just had to disintegate another one!
Anna nodnods re: sign. Good.
Anna: (And yeah, disintegrating solicitors, while fun, DOES distract from disintegrating MORE annoying targets!)
Solarbird: Plus it drains the capacitor and then I have to recharge it.
Taliesin grins.
Solarbird: and it’s a BIG capacitor.
Anna nods wisely.
Taliesin: So that’s what that annoying whine I’m hearing is?
Solarbird: Are you kidding? Hell no. Silent. You think I want that kind of noise pollution near my studio? I’m this close >< to using the magfield generator to move airplanes out of my sky. I’m not adding to the problem!
Anna Hee
Solarbird . o O ( and since they’re all aluminium and composites these days, that means I have to move it by moving the _people_… )
Anna stage whispers to Tal, “I’ve had to remind her to NOT use the heat ray on the neighbors.”
Solarbird LIES
Anna: (Most of whom are ooooooooooooold, it’d be like shooting fish in a barrel)
Solarbird: okay that much is true but it was not _me_ who wanted to liquify the people in the 80s house down the street after _somebody_ locked themselves out and _they_ wouldn’t let her use their phone.
Anna: Now see THAT would have been justifiable disintegration!
Anna: It is not justifiable to disintegrate your neighbors over hedge wankery XD
Solarbird: No, that is the BEST time. I would be a neighbourhood … hero.
Solarbird: Okay you have a point.
Anna: If however you choose to use the ray on the HEDGE…
Anna | *ZORCH* THERE! PROBLEM SOLVED!
Solarbird: Nah, that’s just taking a side at that point. I’d have to take out the hedge AND the trees AND the rockery. And I like trees, mostly.
Solarbird: _Mostly_.
Solarbird: Some of those guys along the north property line? Total fuckers.
Solarbird: But in general, they’re a good lot.
Anna: That’s TRUE.

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solarbird: (music)

The Emerald Forest Filk Society has been on the same web and mail platform for a long time, and the administrator really wants to shut down that machine, so Anna and I have agreed to take on hosting. This URL will always work, despite being non-canonical. There’s also a Twitter feed and a Facebook account, because I am dragging this into five years ago, no matter what! XD

Anna found this WordPress plug-in called Social that I’m trying out with this post. The best thing about Social is that it transfers comments back and forth too, so, say, if you comment on a replication of an EFFS post on Facebook, the comment also goes back to the home website, and that is epic.

So this is mostly an excuse to see if it works. But also I’m publicising the EFFS’s new homes. LINK ALL THE THINGS! XD

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sonic

Dec. 31st, 2013 08:47 am
solarbird: (zoe-and-doctor-who)

My Second Doctor Sonic Screwdriver arrived!


Or at least the base for it. Trying to figure out how to have it make the noise… that’ll be another matter entirely. There’s no extra room as currently configured, but that’s not actually a big deal – smaller batteries and a couple of changes in switch operation will solve that.

Oh, and the light needs to be blue. Jamie said so, and he’d know.

Please enjoy the only time the sonic screwdriver is seen driving a screw on-screen.

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solarbird: (asumanga-yay)

Okay, so I mentioned the big project? Well, a bunch of bands, including us, SJ Tucker, Heather Dale, and lots more, got together for a truly massive free mega-music ‪download package. Seriously, there are like 39 artists in this thing:

The Mega-Music Download Page

If the download link there doesn’t work for you for some reason – it’s been a bit swamped! – here’s a direct link to the .zip file with all songs:

Backup Download Link

In addition to the previous, there’s Betsy Tinney, Talis Kimberly, Pandora Celtica, Julia Ecklar, Ginger Doss, Whisky Bards, Tom Smith, us – so many different bands.

GO GET IT. And if you like what you hear, a lot of us are doing specials right now on our own download pages, like us, where everything of ours on Bandcamp is currently pay-what-you-like. That won’t last forever, so GO. NOW.


Click for full-size

And a happy new year to everyone!

eta: Okay, maybe having everybody involved tell all their people at the same time wasn’t the best idea. XD If you’re seeing an XML error, it’s a result of server overload; try again in 15 minutes to an hour. But my Bandcamp downloads are working fine – Bandcamp is more robust. :D

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