solarbird: (banzai institute)
It was inevitable that the Caframo Joi tealight-powered LED lantern would end up with a Chinese-made knockoff. So when one appeared, I ordered it; it was very much cheaper, and it has extra features - most notably a 2000mAh battery that you can also charge with the candle, and it will let you charge your USB devices either from battery or from flame.

Picoreview: the Joi is much better for light. But the HLC has its good points. If I were to buy a third, I'd buy another Caframo Joi for the light. But I'm glad I have one HLC, if just for the charging ability.

Below is the longer review I wrote up on Amazon. As usual, larger photos on my Flickr photostream.

This is a really versatile device - far moreso than the Caframo Joi lantern. The flame-chargable battery is great (so far) and the ability to run off of the internal battery for light is pretty handy too. Sure, the point of these devices is to run off candles rather than battery, but it's nice to have both options. And the HLC is 40% cheaper, looking at the current prices.

Still, I've discovered that there is one main area where the Joi outperforms the HLC. Obviously, for flexibility, the HLC wins. The Joi has no USB port, no external device charging, and no battery. And while the HLC's smaller candle holder makes many common candles not fit, how many do you need, really? Order one bag of appropriately-sized candles and you're done. (Also, you can easily modify the Ikea candle holders to work, and then shave their candles down to fit that smaller holder, and then those candles work fine too. It's not really an issue.)

But the Joi's light output is better. It's both brighter and provides better colour rendering (higher apparent CRI*) than the HLC. I can't come up with actual CRI numbers, because I lack the equipment for that, but I can set the lanterns up side by side with identical candles in a blacked-out room over colour reference sheets, and the result is pretty revealing.

I've attached photos; the Joi is on the left, the HLC is on the right. The two candles are identical (Ikea), except the one in the HLC has been shaved on the edges a bit to fit in the smaller candle holder. Both were prepared according to lantern-maker's instructions, and allowed to run for a couple of minutes to get up to full brightness. This first picture shows the setup I used, with the white backdrop (to block light from the candles) and the divider (to keep the two light sources from mixing and muddling the results). Other than this setup photo, where room lights were on, all pictures were taken in a windowless room, with all other lights off:

The Setup. The Joi is already lit, HLC hadn't been lit yet.

The first thing you'll notice is the colour temperature difference. That's a matter of taste; warm vs. cool light isn't "better" or "worse," but personal preference. I use both in different situations. The photo isn't really rendering either side of the divider completely as you'd see it in person; the camera was trying to make guesses about what 'true white' was, and I didn't want to modify the photo to cheat the result. The Caframo Joi isn't as reddish at it looks in this photo; the HLC is actually a little cooler in person than seen here, but is well within the range of "cool LED" as found in most battery-driven LEDs online. I own battery LED light devices which are cooler. I think the camera tried to warm the entire photo a bit, so take that photo as an example of contrast. It's quite obvious.

Both sides powered by candle. I have powered-by-battery also, it's no different.

Leaving temperature aside, the Joi's total light output is meaningfully greater, even with fewer LEDs in the array. That was true both with the HLC being powered by candle or by pre-charged battery. (I didn't see a difference in the light output between the two power sources in the HLC - which is good, I shouldn't.) That was a surprise; with the larger number of LEDs in the HLC lantern, I thought it would outperform the Joi there. Don't get me wrong, it's not dim, it's casting a good amount of light - but it's not as bright as the Joi.

The third picture is a stitch-together of two separate photos, both of which were colour and exposure matched with my phone camera. This really shows the difference in CRI between the two lanterns. The easiest place to see it, I think, is in Column 22, cells A through C. Even in an Amazon jpg, 22-A, B, C shouldn't merge together into a single colour like they do under the HLC; they're well distinct in person. Under the Joi, they are clearly different. Columns 5-8 show a greater richness under the Joi than under the HLC, as well, even after exposure and white-level matching.

Colour- and exposure-matching done by the phone; I didn't want my subjective impressions involved.

I don't want to say that the HLC is performing badly here - it's not. It's actually doing quite a bit better than most of my battery-powered emergency LEDs. But the Joi is outperforming it.

So it really comes down to a question of need: light quality vs. versatility. The HLC hits versatility out of the park. A 2000mAh battery should mean a good eight hours of useful light (based upon manual data), or a full charge on a lot of smartphones. That's super handy in an emergency, or just out camping. The ability to run it without a candle at all is great if you're having to move it around, or you want to use it in a room with small children during a blackout, or keep it running as a nightlight or something while you go to sleep.

But for overall light quality, the Joi is the clear winner. It's more total light, the output is across a wider frequency range meaning you have better colour rendering. It's particularly better in reds, without losing out in the blues and greens. I suspect but do not know that its heat exchanger array is more efficient; when I blew out both candles, the Joi stayed lit for much longer than the HLC.

If you have the money, get one of each. I like this, even if I don't like the light as much, and I'm someone for whom that matters, which is why it's 4 of 5 and not 5 of 5. But if not, or if you want a third - well, that's up to you. HLC for versatility, Joi for quality of light.

*: For those who don't know what CRI/colour rendering is - it's how well do different colours show up when illuminated by a light source, more or less. You can make a light look white to the eye with only three really specific frequencies coming out of the bulb - but all the colours in the room will look wrong, despite the "white" light. A lot of early compact florescent bulbs were terrible about this, as are a lot of battery-powered LED lamps even today.

ps: Separately, my HLC arrived a little bit out of alignment; temporarily loosening the top screws let me push it back to square, which also made the door easier to latch. I'm not frankly sure anybody else would've noticed, it was a small misalignment, but hey, I'm the person who pulls out colour charts to compare emergency and camp lighting, of course I noticed. XD
solarbird: (music)

I’ve been looking over music display apps for Android, and right now, I’m really liking MobileSheetsPro. I’ve been testing using the Free version, which is fully-featured but sharply limited on number of songs and playlists and set lists. Does anyone have any other software they’d like to suggest before I dive in?

(BEFORE YOU SAY IT, iPad users: forScore is not available for Android. Which I don’t mind – I’m not thinking of anything I’d want that MobileSheets doesn’t do, it does a lot of things I wouldn’t’ve thought of, and the features list vs. forScore is pretty comparable.)

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I’m already feeling a lot of confirmation about having bought this thing – the ability to have my entire music sheet library around on any gig and the ability to pull it up at any time, even stuff I never play? That’s pretty damn awesome. I’ll be able to have stuff always that I normally just don’t bother hauling around.

That would be the tablet I mentioned earlier.

Does anybody have any suggestions for Bluetooth page-turning pedals? I’m looking at the AirTurn PED at the moment, even though it’s a really new device. It’s small, it has fantastic battery life, it’s silent, it’s listed as supporting MobileSheetsPro, and is a Bluetooth SMART READY device, which means you don’t lose bluetooth sync across power saving mode. I like that part a lot.

One big question is whether this tablet supports SMART READY. But it claims to be Bluetooth 4.0, which means it should support SMART READY intrinsically. I have a question in to support to make sure. The odds are good – SMART READY has been around for a few years now and is pretty core to the 4.0 spec, so I don’t even think you can claim Bluetooth 4 without it.

Anyway, if you have any insights, I’d love to hear ’em! Let me know in comments. Thanks!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

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.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (mandolin-and-flutes)

Forbes Magazine has noticed the return of the analogue synthesiser. I’ve seen a lot of people buying old and rebuilding; I wasn’t aware how many of the classics were back in or about to return to production.

Korg MS-20 (courtesy Wikipedia)

There seems to be some idea floating out there – and certainly in that Forbes article – that it’s a matter of rejecting digital, with it’s an implication that it’s some sort of Overdue Retreat From False Progress, and similar foolishness.

That’s not just wrong, it’s stupid. It’s the kind of derpitude written for people who don’t understand a subject and are wearing their late-middle-age everything-was-better-in-my-day nostalgia crap goggles.

Never wear those.

But something real is happening: a recognition that these were interesting and unique instruments in their own rights, and that new “versions” of the instrumental idea are not the instrumental idea. Just as the successors of the lute were not lute version 2.0, the successors of these synths are are not these instruments, version 2.0. They’re new instruments, with their own merits and flaws.

The technology model of continuous improvement doesn’t apply to everything, no matter how hard you try.

Similarly, just as MIDI violin doesn’t preempt real violin, emulations of the actual instrument – while useful, I’m a huge fan of the Animoog implementation on my iPad – do not always replace the actual instrument.

Particularly not with players. Not with the musicians. All of these things have their own physicalities, and for a lot of players – like me – that’s important. There are tens of thousands of bass guitars out there; there are a few I love. There are far fewer Irish Bouzoukis out there; and there are two, so far, I love. Part of that’s the sound; part of that is the physicality. It all matters.

I’m glad that’s finally being recognised for these classic analogue subtractive synths. The recognition that they are unique instruments, of a kind and a type, and of value not as a step to something else, but to themselves, and their unique sounds – it’s long overdue. Returning them to production is no more some kind of reactionary step backwards than is continuing to produce fiddles.

And I’m all for it. Welcome back to the fold, subtractive synths. We missed you.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

The Seattle Geekly podcast has long been a big supporter of geekmusics of all flavours. They had to retire from podcasting a couple of years ago due to Fuck You, Cancer reasons, but are ready to come back with a little Kickstarter funding.

They’re less than $400 away from goal, but are down to four days as I type this. Go back this project. I already have. In fact, I just upped my support.

Seriously, go throw ‘em a fiver if nothing else. They’ve been big music supporters; get them back above the line.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (shego-cosplay)

Hi, visitors from The Old New Thing! Nice to meet you! Welcome to rage-driven acoustic elfmetal.

I know you’re here for the triple-rainbow pictures and the aftereffects of the Rainmaker 68000, but if you get a chance to listen to our music or watch any of Dara’s solo-performance video, that’d be awesome too.

We’re currently in studio working on our new album (Din of Thieves), a second project involving a book soundtrack for a fantasy novel series, and a couple of side-projects with other bands. Lots of planning, lots of plotting, lots of mayhem, hopefully lots of sales! Ah, a supervillain musician can dream, can’t she?

Anyway, no rest for the wicked and all that. We’ve moved a bunch of wires around so more of you should be seeing this. Thanks for coming by, and thanks to Raymond for the link. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (assassin)

A linkfest post? Really? YES. I did enjoy meeting up with Songwriters in Seattle on Monday, tho’. Hey, if any of you make it over here, hi! I’m getting ready for my show in Portland on Sunday. It’s a house concert but I can get you in; just email me if you’re interested!

Anyway, a small number of links:

I haven’t loved an XKCD post this much in a long time.

This is possibly of interest to anybody doing creative work. Publishing houses cutting back so much on their own promotion and shifting that burden more heavily to authors has shoved writers over. It’s not as bad as label musicians yet, tho’.

I used to guerilla garden. I planted edibles. Now the entire town’s going apey for it!

Vostok Lake pointed me at this musician networking website. No idea whether it’s useful yet, but I signed up because hey, why not.

My hair got all red! I have proper supervillain hair now. Well, not all red – red panels, but I held them all in front so you can see ‘em! I love it, even if the inside of my shower stall looks like an axe murderer’s rehearsal studio.

…or is that because?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

misc links

Sep. 24th, 2011 12:19 am
solarbird: (Default)
I haven't known what to do with these, so here they are!

US court allows lawsuit by American victims of Mr. Bush's torture programme advance. Two undercover FBI agents, both known to be FBI undercover agents investigating corruption by US contractors, were held and tortured for months. A third American was also held and tortured for months. Frankly, I'm surprised they've been allowed to proceed this far; Mr. Obama has managed to stop all the other cases. Perhaps there's enough FBI pressure on this one to counterbalance some of the political weight of the American torture establishment.

GM OnStar spies on you after you cancel your subscription. You can opt out, but you have to know to do that.

TLS is fucked. V1, anyway. V1.1 and 1.2 aren't vulnerable, but there's been very little support for them so far. Everybody watch this change fast!

This is just kind of pathetic, really. Creationist "science" textbook tries to explain electricity, gives up. It's a MYSTERY! Also, go check their sample chapter on the formation of the moon. It's ... sad.

What Facebook's new OpenGraph means for you. Which is to say, how it gets as much information about you together as possible.
solarbird: (assassin)

Let’s talk about gear! Gear is important! Gear that protects your instruments is extremely important.

So I’m working on a mandolin travel case. It’s a companion case to the zouk case I made out of an old keyboard travel case, but built from scratch out of reclaimed wood. Here’s the top frame, made from trimmed down bits of wood from a bunch of different old sources, including some roof joist elements:

And here’s the panel that’ll slide in to this frame:

The panel is made of biscuit-joined slats salvaged from… I don’t even remember at this point, actually. XD Some sort of furniture, maybe they were bedslats? I don’t think so, tho’. They’re finish-grade seven-layer plywood. The bottom panel (not photographed) is made of leftover oak planks from a flooring project, and boards recovered from another set of sources. Both are backed by quarter-inch ply, to which they’re glued.

The network move is going pretty well. But there’s still more to go, so CD shipping from the official band site remains free, worldwide. Clickie!

Other than that, I’m mostly getting ready for the show at Seattle’s Mars Bar on July 8th. It’s a triple bill with us, Natalie Quist, and Gimmie a Pigfoot. That’s a Friday, so c’mon out!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.
Buy Dick Tracy Must Die at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, or through Bandcamp!

solarbird: (Default)
So I was helping some people the other day try to pronounce a Japanese name that they'd seen written in English letters; they we trying to figure it out and applying US English pronunciation and of course knew that was wrong, but didn't know what to do. So I pronounced it correctly for them a few times, but they needed it broken down into syllables, which I did a couple of times, but their attempts to repeat back to me confused me, and someone else came up anyway, so I needed it spelt for me again.

And the new person spelt it in chunks, and it broke my brain, and the word fell out, so I asked him to repeat it, and he did the same thing, and I kept trying to make him stop, because the way he was doing it was breaking my ability to process it, somehow, and it took several tries until I could get him to stop pausing mid-word and then it stayed.

And only after I left did I figure out that what he was doing was breaking letters in half. Obviously he wasn't doing this in English - he was using whole letters - but he was in Japanese, by using English letters and pausing after consonants, in ways you just can't in Japanese. They stop being phoenic base elements, or letters at all, and become a linguistically unqualifyable element - and in my head just disappear, apparently.

It felt a lot like I was suddenly off my memory meds. The disappearance effect was strikingly similar.
solarbird: (banzai institute)
I'm pawn shop spelunking again. The Peavey 315S is a three-way passive PA speaker. Anybody know anything about it?


Apr. 5th, 2010 04:49 pm
solarbird: (Default)
You can check my Norwescon 33 report here; that was kind of a hell of a thing, but I'm not going to post about it again here 'cause it's while it's about music it's more about running an event than about making/writing music which is what I write about here.

However, I will give you this webcomic, which I <3 today. ^_^


Mar. 27th, 2010 11:30 pm
solarbird: (Default)

Finally saw Ponyo today and while it is a minor movie from Studio Gibli I still quite enjoyed it. Also, pop pop boats are awesome.

Posted via

solarbird: (molly-sleepy-not-asleep)
Daylight Savings time costs energy, not saves it, study says. Energy used for lighting is reduced, but it's overtaken by greater morning heating costs early on, and - new since World War II - air-conditioning costs during afternoons and such in summer. Might be time to re-evaluate this whole thing.

Octopus fossils are rarer than hens teeth, but a few really good ones were found recently.

Films from the End of an Empire - home movies from South Asia in the last years of the British Raj and the first years of independence.
solarbird: (music)

I’m learning to play electric bass. I’m playing a 1965 hollow-body Klira, the type known as a “McCartney Bass,” but a different maker; I’ve talked about it before. I’m doing it partly because I wanted to poke around at bass – and it is fun – but mostly I’m doing it right now because I need a bassline on several of these songs, and electronic octave-dropping an octave mandolin isn’t always the right answer.

But it’s another goddamn skill I get to level up before I can finish Dick Tracy Must Die. This is intensely frustrating. I’d built up real studio momentum, and now this new spanner’s been thrown in the works. Sure, I’m still recording other things – “Artefacts” is pretty much finished now, minus some technical clean-up; “Thought You Knew” is not quite there but close – but it’s like an ax got wedged in my brain. It’s divided attention, where the sum is greater than the parts, but you’re going at it the backwards way, from the sum to the parts, a loss rather than a gain.

For a couple of weeks there, I was entirely in make-the-recording mode and out of figure-out-recording mode, and I liked that. I was applying learned skills in a pretty serious way. It’s not that I wasn’t learning, still; I was. But it was different, in the trying-different-things way rather than the learning-basic-things way. That mode is what got Sketchy Characters out the door.

But now I’m back behind that threshold again, and it feels like swimming in molasses. It’s not that I’m not gaining skill at bass; I am. Yesterday, for the first time, I recorded a bassline for “Thought You Knew” that I listened to and thought, “okay, I could edit this into something passable.” It’s not passable as-is – not close – but there are enough proper bits in it that I could probably hack it into something that sounded okay. Today, I recorded a take that was meaningfully better than yesterday’s, tho’ still not in the actually-okay range.

It’s coming, but not quickly enough. Worse, I’m spending so much time on learning electric bass that I’ve been neglecting everything else.

And after Dick Tracy Must Die, I already have two more CDs worth of material. Next comes the instrumental CD Distractions – that one should at least be easy – and the follow-up which doesn’t have a title yet, but does have 10 or 11 songs waiting for it. I write a lot faster than I record, and getting what I hear in my head out so you lot can hear it too is so much work.

I know that eventually I’ll get past this – again – and it’ll still be work but I’ll know what I’m doing, and it’ll be ten times faster, and sound better, and be easier and and and. I look forward to that time a lot. But right now, that feels like it’s two centuries away.

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Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

solarbird: (Default)
How web design goes to hell. (From [ profile] telophase.)

This series of four James Lipton 'beard' commercials/PSAs made me laugh. (From [ profile] gfish.)

Check out the customer-supplied photos for this (worksafe) product on Amazon. Reviews are funny too. (Also from [ profile] gfish.)
solarbird: (cowboys-suck)
As described in this post in News, there's a Flash-based cross-site scripting bug that edits the most recent post of any logged in user who views content containing the script. This journal's previous entry was affected - code embedding infected video was added to that post after I viewed an apparently-infected post on my friendslist. As a result, LJ staff have partially disabled embedding while they work on a better solution. So be aware of this, and check your most recent posts as described in this post in News. Youtube embeds aren't affected, and have already been re-whitelisted.
solarbird: (molly-content)
Here, I have too many tabs open. Enjoy several items! First, the nice bits:

Free Museum Admission Day in the US, September 26th. They have a list and map of participating museums. Participating museum locator here.

A really nice aerial photograph of the Burning Man site from this year.

Not entirely - just mostly - unrelated, please enjoy this high-resolution topographic map of Mars.

Finally, Two Player Productions put up a bit set of live tracks from a bunch of bands, including Anamanaguchi, all from Blip Festival 2008. Please to enjoy musics!

Now two not-at-all fun bits:

Robert Hersch, primary author of the US Federal government's report on peak oil, talks to the ASPO USA on the difficulties of getting the report done and out at all - it was too much a "bad news" story, and still is: "...I would argue for because somebody has to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes. That’s going to be very difficult because people don’t like to hear bad news, and this is terrible news, and as it sinks in, markets will drop and there will be an immediate recessionary reaction, because people will realize that this is such a horrendous problem that having a positive outlook on employment and the economy is just simply unrealistic."

The Philadelphia public library system is preparing to shutter all operations on October 2nd, pending revisions to state budgeting. I don't know how much of this may be stunt, but it is consistent with the massive shortfalls in tax revenue in most parts of the US.
solarbird: (music)
This video of Bobby McFerrin demonstrating the pentatonic scale is neat, and more specifically, more interesting than the description makes it sound, because of audience participation. (Relayed to me by Vixy.)

In other news, the ending I wrote for Getting Away With It doesn't get away with a goddamn thing. WHY CAN'T I FIX THIS argh h8
solarbird: (molly-thats-not-good-green)
Go help [ profile] annathepiper repro this annoying bug. Details at the link.

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