November 25, 2008

muddy thinking

3,000 Riot to Protest Crackdown on Illegal Amazon Logging

You know you've had your head stuck inside a computer for too long when, after reading the headline above, you start wondering why:

1. How long had been keeping these logs?
2. In which country is excessive logging of customer data illegal?
3. How much did Jeff Bezos have to pay these protesters to incite a riot?

But it turns out of course that it's a rainforest article. (Insert "couldn't see the forest for the trees" pun here.)

November 15, 2008

We be x0xing

It occurred to me today that I hadn't put up many pictures yet of my x0xb0x whilst under construction. It further occurred to me I had not taken many pictures of my x0xb0x whilst under construction either. Besides the one a few posts down, this is it:

Here the power supply is done (the components on the smaller PCB to the right) as well as the VCO and VCA sections of the mainboard. And also a few IC sockets are in because I got bored one night and wanted to solder but didn't have all the parts yet.

Here's a photo of the finished product:

It simply sounds marvelous and is a joy to tinker with. I used diffused blue LEDs (which are actually hard to get a hold of cheaply) and metal knobs. The knobs ended up being the wrong size though, so they sort of wobble a little when you turn them. (The center of the pot is not the same as the center of the knob.)

I also happened across a picture of the oscilloscope I bought on eBay. Four channels, 100MHz, all awesome. It's the exact same model that I used in the Air Force to repair autopilot systems so I'm already familiar with its operation. Usually, buying something like an oscilloscope on eBay is extremely risky. An oscilloscope is a precision instrument with a million different things that can go wrong and quite a few bits inside that have to be calibrated every so often. On top of that, most of the test equipment for sale on eBay comes from auctions a.k.a., refuse.

I got lucky, though: $300 (free shipping) and there's not a single thing wrong with it. I like gambles that work out in my favor.

November 2, 2008


Not only is this my first x0xb0x track, it's the first full piece of "music" I've composed. Evar.

The main sound is a x0xb0x connected to a Zoom 506 bass guitar effects pedal with some pretty wild settings. The x0x provided MIDI sync to ReBirth, a software synthesizer for Windows which donated a second 303 to the track as well as authentic 808 and 909 drum machine sounds. ReBirth performs admirably on Linux with the help of Wine, even the MIDI stuff.

This was recorded "live" in a single go, although there was some rehearsal. (And obviously the patterns were not programmed on the fly.) It's also kinda noisy since I've yet to perfect the art of recording things from the audio-in of a sound card. The drum machine effects themselves are known to be cheesy (808 cowbell!) since I was just trying to get something that sounded somewhat catchy without getting bogged down in minutiae. Overall, I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

Here are links to it in two formats: OGG and MP3. The OGG one sounds better but you might only have an MP3 player handy.

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