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mdlbear: Franklin on the $100 bill wearing Guy Fawkes mask (transfer-me)

Hmm. I think it was a pretty good day, but mostly I kept busy and didn't notice. Which I guess makes it a very good day, in some sense. I did some chord and singing practice, recorded The Owl and the Pussycat with two microphones (the ribbon may have a slight edge, but it's really hard for me to tell -- I'll have to get someone with younger ears to help), and did a lot of work toward revamping the Makefile that builds practice, concert and album web pages.

On the other hand, I wasn't feeling all that well in the afternoon, so I opted out of the local housefilk to stay home, make dinner for Colleen, and keep hacking. And it started raining just as I was leaving for a walk. Which I wasn't feeling up to in any case.

And on the gripping hand, I did manage to post Songs for Saturday, and made two icons (for trainwreck and Bank Transfer Day).

On the fourth hand, somewhat down on myself for not starting set-up early enough to actually transfer money on the day. Which is minor in itself, but triggers a long chain of associations with other things I didn't do in time.

So... mixed, I guess.

This Bank Transfer Day poster is particularly good, and as you can see I made an icon out of it.

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

I seem to be easily distracted this morning. I think I've been chasing links for about an hour after starting this post. (I make these posts by copying the "raw notes" from my to.do file.) I see that yesterday I felt "scatterbrained". On the other hand, my mood seems to be trending upward; I actually found myself laughing yesterday. Laughing is good. So is an extra 10mg of cope.

I made two shopping trips: one with the YD to get books she needs for her English class, the other personal. We started out at the DeVry campus in Fremont, where we found that the bookstore was closed. Wonder whether it's open Saturday mornings. Anyway, the campus seemed pretty dead, and out in the middle of nowhere. I think that if she wants a college social experience she's better off at DeAnza, or even City. Given her schedule, the two are not incompatible.

So we went from there to B&N. The YD found one of her two books; I found two: An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks and The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman. The latter is the first book about body language I've seen that actually has enough detail about reading and presenting to be useful to me.

The second trip was nominally for coffee and fish, but a stop at Guitar Showcase's consignment shop netted me a CEntrance MicPort Pro for less than half price -- it seems to be the only XLR-to-USB converter out there with 24/96 converters. When I got it home it Just Worked with Audacity on Debian. So now I have a recording studio I can carry in Minnie, at least if I add a suitable small mic. That's not really the point, of course; what it really means is that I can get on a plane and record tracks wherever I'm going. At least if they have a mic stand.

Dinner was a caprese-type salad, broccoli, and two kinds of fish: pan-fried lingcod, and tuna sashimi. I couldn't decide.

I also accepted somebody's offer of a Google+ invite, though it has yet to show up in my email. On the other hand, neither has the test message I sent a few minutes ago. Weird. (Now performing further tests. Hmm. Can't send to either gmail account from either home or work. Silent spam filtering? Greylisting? We'll see.) OK, config on the workstation is just plain WRONG. :( :(

Um... I've been dribbling (driveling?) into this post for at nearly three hours now. Growf.

See the notes for links, while I go fix email on my workstation.

mdlbear: (audacity)

I don't have all of the OryCon concert online yet -- I'm still waiting for audio to replace what my fat fingers missed. But the video of about half the concert is up on YouTube, and the audio from our songs in the KinderFilk concert is up on Tempered-Glass.info.

The best, I think, is the video of Mina's Song by Zander Nyrond. Unless you're in a tearing hurry, watch the introduction too.

I'll let you know when the rest of the audio makes it up.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Not a bad day by any means, but a little frustrating in spots. No recording to speak of, but I did manage to upgrade my desktop machine to Ubuntu 10.10, which fixed the problem I've been having (and wasted many hours on) persuading gdm to give me a user-defined (.xsession) session. It wouldn't matter so much if I wasn't trying to save power by turning the machine off when I'm not using it.

A good walk -- three miles by Los Gatos Creek. Along the way I saw a truly marvelous vehicle -- basically a bicycle with a wheelchair replacing the front wheel. Looked hard to pedal, but the kid in the chair was obviously having a blast.

A phone call pointed out once again that I really don't think well on my feet, especially when distracted by driving. It wasn't really much of a success. I did figure out what I should have said, about half an hour later. *shrugs*

Much was made of the fact that 101010 in binary is 42 in decimal. Treehugger pointed out that's it's also the day the Eames Office celebrates the wonderful film Powers of Ten by Ray and Charles Eames.

Other links under the cut.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A pretty relaxing day. I finally figured out what was going wrong with my scratch track yesterday -- silly bear was mistaken about where the downbeat comes in the picking pattern. I was able to get about halfway through Filksong Lullabye before I got off by a beat; I need to make the click track a little louder, I think.

It looks as though getting USB audio interfaces to work with ALSA is non-trivial. That kinda sucks. I have been trying to figure out how to put together a portable, mini-ITX-based recording box, though just how portable I can make a 4-U rack is something of an open question.

A four-mile walk by Los Gatos Creek, shopping with Colleen, sushi with Colleen and the YD, and a nice drive afterward. Yeah, good day.

A few links up there under the cut.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Good day? Darned if I know; I was too busy to notice, most of the time.

The morning was mostly spent working on a potentially show-stopping bug in one of the external trials, that eventually turned out to be the customer not following instructions. We knew that problem was there. We also knew how to set things up so that the problem couldn't happen. :P

The afternoon was mostly spent fixing real bugs of various sorts in my own code. The evening was spent trying to calibrate the latency correction in Audacity, and finding more things wrong with both it and Ubuntu's audio. Forget about suspend -- audacity gets very flaky afterwards. Grumpy bear.

I made myself a makeshift adjustable ear loop for my BT headset; as predicted, it worked much better than the stock one. So I'll be looking seriously into wire sculpture techniques and supplies for the next iteration.

I tried several times to record a scratch track for Filksong Lullabye; I'm damned if I know why I keep getting out of sync with the click track. It only seems to happen if I'm singing and playing guitar at the same time. Thinking about it now, it seems like my voice is about a half a beat ahead of the guitar. That's going to be tricky. But I do it a lot, so I'm just going to have to figure out how to handle it. Probably by syncing the guitar to the clicks, since pretty much everything has a guitar intro. Actually, the thumb goes on the downbeat, and the strum on the second beat. Idiot bear! I knew that.

I went out to REI at lunchtime hoping to buy two pairs of my favorite walking shoes, Keen Brooklin Mid, which were on sale for $75. The store was out (just hours after the sale started), so had to special-order them. But I got them. Last time I waited too long, and they were out of stock for two years.

Quite a few good links; it's easier now that I know what magic parameter to set to make emacs play nice with Chrome's "create link" extension (setq x-select-enable-clipboard t), it can also be set in the "killing" customization group, IIRC.

Lots of fascinating infographics at curetogether.com, though the data points at the low end of the "popularity" scale are probably very noisy due to small sample size. The idea of crowdsourcing medical statistics is a great one, though.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

I discovered, when I went to record a vocal track, that Audacity appeared to be seriously buggy. And that I didn't have a package for Ardour. It's possible, though, that Audacity's hanging was due, not to software problems, but a bad disk. It started getting odd errors in the middle of an upgrade a little later, and the fsck on the later reboot had a bundle of them. It still booted, but things were distinctly weird.

At this point I decided to replace the fileserver, as planned, and use the old box as my new desktop. I went out for a walk and a trip to Fry's (for a missing 20-24-pin power adapter). The upgrade went smoothly except for a bad or flaky KVM switch. :( But the office is a lot quieter now -- the nearest fan is the ceiling fan in the living room. (That'll change once I get the new desktop configured, of course. For now I'm on my netbook in the living room.)

Quite a lot of puttering, too, mostly having to do with lighting. Tossed the last of the incandescents from the lighting box into a bag for recycling, except for two appliance lights and a heat lamp. Somehow I don't think they make compact fluorescent heat lamps.

Some links, as usual.

ETA: I should add that no data were lost in the the wreckage of Dorsai's disk -- all of it lives on the fileserver, and a desktop machine has nothing but its installed OS, applications, and config files. The config files had been backed up Friday evening.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A rather frustrating day; no real walking, though, just in Fry's and a couple of other places. Shopping largely unsuccessful. Got N's package mailed.

I recorded a scratch track for "Eyes Like the Morning", which I think was pretty good. Then when I went to record a clean vocal track with my new microphone I discovered that Audacity hung whenever I hit "record". WTF? The plugin that records scratch tracks is broken, too -- I ended up just running a metronome app (gtick) on the side. And Lenny doesn't appear to have a package for Ardour, which looks like a good alternative. In any case, it looks like an install of 64studio or UbuntuStudio is in order.

Then all hell broke loose during an upgrade: the disk is toast. Or at least crisp around the edges; I'm not going to trust it. So it's a good thing I was planning a clean install anyway.

So tonight I get to upgrade the file server to the new low-power motherboard, then reconfigure the old file server as my new desktop. Which, oddly enough, is where it started out two upgrades ago, when Trantor was dragooned into service to replace a dead MB on Nova.

What goes around comes around? Whatever.

Time to make dinner. A couple of linkies under the cut.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Good grief! OK, it's been busy, but I really could have found time to post some "done yesterday"s before I accumulated nearly a week's worth! Sorry about that.

During the course of the week I managed to acquire a new microphone (the Rode NT1A I saw last Saturday at Guitar Showcase, ordered from Musician's Friend), some StringSwing guitar holders (one that clamps onto a music stand, and one that screws onto a rack), and a couple of full-spectrum floor lamps. I also managed to misdirect a couple of packages, and to intercept one of them in time to get it where it was going. And to prove myself a careless hacker for assuming that I'd proofread them ages ago when I first made the cut-and-paste error.

I figured out that my depression seems to be heavily light-dependent -- I'm down on cloudy days and dark mornings. Hence the full-spectrum lamps.

I had a lot of trouble with nasal congestion, but appear to have gotten a reasonable amount of sleep. Not that I particularly like going to bed that early. I am very grumpy at my body.

I did some singing, and experimented with click tracks, but no recording. I feel that I got very little actually done, either at work or at home. I think I probably did, it just wasn't what I'd written down as needing doing. Again, it is to grump at.

I accumulated a huge number of links -- go look under the cut.

... and with that the Bear trundles off to bed.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A good day. Put in several orders, including the big one for a pair of hospital beds. Good price at Amazon, and for some reason didn't hold back the way I usually do. About time -- the original idea was that we'd rent for a month or two to see how we liked it, then buy. That was last May.

Some good progress at work, too. Damned good thing, and about time. It looks like a scary, wild ride ahead as $research-project tries to turn into a product on a tight schedule.

A good walk in good (i.e. cool) weather; don't know what happened to the step count. Possibly tilted wrong? Or just lazy the rest of the day. Who knows?

Lots of good links under the cut, as usual.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Many projects and subtasks have been stalled for a long time. Two of them got done this morning.

First, I hooked up my new printer (Epson Workforce 600) to Dorsai, downloaded the latest version of Gutenprint, and it worked. No such luck with Nova, which is still running Etch: the latest version of Gutenprint available for it is too old. I have the choice of either trying to backport, or upgrading to Lenny. I'll choose the latter, later.

Second, I dragged in a music stand, headset mic, and Flame; hooked them up, and recorded a couple of test tracks of [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi's Riverheart. Oh. My. [ogg] [mp3]

A couple of minor vocal/wording glitches, and a few mic position/level tweaks still needed, but nice and clean; not bad for the second take of the day. The headset mic is close enough to my mouth that there's almost no guitar crosstalk. We likes it.

Waves to [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi.

mdlbear: (audacity)

My toastmaster's concert at ConChord, which happened a week ago last Saturday, is finally split up, properly indexed, and uploaded. You can find it here. For field recordings, the sound quality is remarkably good; they were captured on my H2, just in front of the audience. The performances a little less so, but parts of it are, if not awesome, at least served up with win and a modest amount of awesome sauce. I did tear up at the ending of QV, so that says something.

Music time

2008-08-12 11:23 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

As I mentioned earlier, Colleen has decreed that the hour between 9 and 10pm is for me to work on recording or other, hopefully related, music projects. Tonight was the first opportunity to put that into practice, if you don't count 8-9 yesterday at Joyce's.

In the event, what I ended up doing was relocating my microphones so that I could record within reach of the new workstation, with its large monitor. That, of course, also required moving the associated preamps and the head-end of the M-Audio Delta 1010 interface. And their associated wall-warts, and the power squid they were plugged into...

Took more like an hour and a quarter, all told. And I spent the 45 minutes after that practicing.

Productive evening, in other words, even if I didn't get any actual recording done.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Spent most of the morning plugging my new recording rig together. This mainly involved clearing off the little tray table I'm using as a desk so as to have enough room for the Delta 1010's rackmounted DAC/ADC box, chasing down patch cables for the two preamps and the headphone amp, plugging all the wall warts into the squid, and routing cables back to the computer.

Work was interrupted by the need to go out to OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) for a little plastic garden shed they had on sale. [That reminds me: now that there are people in the house I have to assemble an unloading detail. It's all assembled (a major factor in deciding which of the two possible sheds to buy), so the box is bulky but not too heavy.]

There was one nasty moment when I flipped the switch on the squid and the 1010's power light didn't come on. I searched all over for a power switch and finally decided to see if it was waiting for the computer to power up. It was. Dorsai booted up (there are still quite a few configuration tweaks that need doing -- I haven't done serious work in Ubuntu before -- but those can wait) and the meters on envy24control lit up when I snapped my fingers in front of the mics. So it'll all work.

And my Lenovo Thinkpad keyboard arrived this evening shortly before the pizza -- comes with a lovely black leather-looking carrying case, too.

And one of the Wednesday crowd ([livejournal.com profile] hellloooonurse) brought along his new radio-controlled dalek.

So I'm a happy geek.

mdlbear: (ubuntu-hello-cthulhu)

The project for yesterday was getting Dorsai, my "new" recording box, set up with a realtime kernel and the right set of applications. Specifically, the plan was to install the 64-bit version of Debian Etch (the base for 64Studio), and the 64-bit version of UbuntuStudio (which, being based on Gutsy Gibbon, includes Audacity 1.3.3). Along the way, I wanted to make the multi-OS Grub menu work properly. It took all afternoon.

the details, for the technically inclined )

This afternoon's challenge is completely different. The Wolfling has a batch of documents, taken off her old computer, that she needs to print. Unfortunately, they were written in Microsoft Works, which has a proprietary format incompatible with everything in the known universe, and the only copy in the house is on that old computer. So I have to get it back in operation somehow I have it in the office hooked up to my KVM switch, so with luck it will Just Work[tm], but this is Windows we're talking about. (... OK, it boots. But I never made myself an account on it, so she'll have to deal with it when she gets home, unless I can do it from the guest account. The fact that it won't shut down properly doesn't help.) Maybe the recently freed version of Works will work on Colleen's machine. Maybe.

5:45pm Guest was able to print from the keychain drive. And there is much rejoicing.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

My main line of geekiness this weekend centered around getting my former workstation, Trantor, ready to serve as a new recording machine (under the nodename Dorsai). Not as much progress as I'd hoped -- I spent quite a lot of time chasing my tail because the gigabit ethernet card on my former recording machine, Harmony, suddenly decided to be referred to as eth3 instead of eth0. WTF?

(Aside: since my internal domain is thestarport.org, all my node names are stars or planets, mostly from science fiction. Machines used primarily for audio, naturally, get names mentioned in filksongs. The laptop is Argo; you've already met Harmony and Dorsai. Most of my early workstations had names from Star Wars; Dantooine is currently being used as a print server. Tatooine, Moseisley, and Hoth are long out of service.)

Anyway, Trantor finally got renamed, and has a shiny new GigE card, and both it and Harmony have eSATA headers installed in case I want to use external hard drives recording media. Only thing left is the software, which will initially be 64studio.com (an easy upgrade from Etch). At some point I mean to try the 64-bit version on Dorsai, and also UbuntuStudio. One way or another, I'll have Dorsai in the bedroom studio and ready to record with sometime this week.

Meanwhile, I did quite a lot of uncluttering. Moved most of my inventory of CDs -- 5 boxes worth -- into the front closet (now that [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf has much, though not all, of her stuff out of it), and did quite a lot of re-arranging, consolidating, and uncluttering in the office. This included moving two defunct computers (Algol and Flare) up to the attic, recycling two empty boxes that had somehow gotten stored in the attic right where I wanted to put the computers, and moving a mostly-empty shelf up two inches so I could slide a computer under it. I also got Dorsai out from under the desk to where I could work on it. Which in turn required consolidating some of the CD-shipping stuff into a file box.

I'm still left with a couple of items sitting out on chairs, including a storage drawer full of old floppy disks that no longer fits on the shelf I moved, and the box of CD-shipping stuff that was originally in the spot where I moved Dorsai.

Oh, and I finished ripping the last of the pile of CDs that's been hanging around in the office waiting to be ripped.

So although I didn't quite reach my goal of an operational recording set-up, I got quite a lot done. Not complaining.

mdlbear: (h2)

The Zoom H2 I ordered two Saturdays ago arrived this afternoon, too late for me to show it off at our 2pm group meeting, but early enough to mostly destroy my productivity after that. It's pretty nice.

It has its limitations. The recording medium is an SD card (or up to a 4GB SDHD card); since it's DOS formatted the max file size is 2GB. At two channels x 24 bits x 44.1kHz a 2GB card will give me a shade over 2 hours (based on the fact that the display shows 32 minutes for an empty 512GB card). Easily enough for a typical concert set, but I'd have to swap cards if there were two hour-long concerts back-to-back. They're getting cheap. I get the same two hours recording 4 tracks onto a 4GB card.

Of course, if I want lots of recording time I can always switch it over to MP3 mode.

It takes line or microphone in, which of course resetricts it to 2 channels. For what I intend to do with it, it's fine. Making it pretend to be a USB drive isn't completely trivial, but it's close enough (plug it in with the power off, and press a button); fortunately card readers are ubiquitous (except that I can't seem to find mine at the moment...)

So far I've only tried a little hand-held, spoken word recording; it sounds fantastic, to my (distinctly non-golden) ears. It's nicely pocket-sized, and has a camera tripod mount (with a "mic clip adapter" -- basically a conical piece of plastic -- that screws into it). Has a 9vdc adapter, and runs on two AA batteries.

On the whole a fantastic little toy tool. I look forward to playing with using it in the near future. A review will be coming soon -- after I get done with the shipping!

mdlbear: (h2)

Having determined that my favorite local store, Guitar Showcase, doesn't have the Zoom H2, I went and ordered one from AMS. (GS did have several fascinating instruments in their consignment shop, but I've been assured by the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat that she'll divorce me if I bring another home. Besides, I'm out of closet space.)

I also ordered a Rolls PM50S personal monitor. This is basically a headphone amplifier (which I need for the Delta 1010 I bought at GS's consignment shop a month and a half ago) with the ability to mix in the signal from a microphone, which it taps off without interfering with either the signal from the mic to the preamp, or the phantom power going the other way. (I checked the schematic, which was in the two-page manual AMS links to from the product page.) I'll probably get another eventually, though I'd like to find the one mentioned in the manual as having a battery compartment. Or maybe I'll just cobble one together from parts.

See this post for technical trade-offs. I don't expect to ever use it as a USB microphone or interface, or to multitrack with it. That's what the UA-25 is for. The H2 looks ideal for recording concerts, circles, and rehearsal sessions.

That reminds me: I have concert recordings from Baycon, Westercon and ConChord that I still have to split up and upload. Oops.


2007-08-21 10:08 pm
mdlbear: (grrr)

Just verified that k3b, the program I used to burn the master for CC&S, doesn't put in pregaps by default. In fact, it basically doesn't know about them at all: you have to (explicitly, manually) add 2 seconds of silence at the end of every damned track. IDIOTS!!

My own damned fault for not listening to the master carefully enough. Too late now.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Discussing the Zoom H4 in comments to this post by [livejournal.com profile] catsittingstill, I realized that the soon-to-be-shipped H2 was a lot closer to what I really need for field recording.

I want this. [image] ) Technical trade-offs )

The fact that it's $100 cheaper than the H4 doesn't hurt. I'll probably wait for reviews, but I strongly suspect that there's a Zoom H2 in my future.

Aug. 22 14:38 It can only send 2 channels x 16 bits over USB, but it can be powered from USB, meaning you can use a MintyBoost to extend your battery life.


2007-06-22 09:41 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

I love audacity. Fixed sync problems in the choruses of "Little Computing Machine" and "Daddy's World", added reverb and tweaked levels on "Somplace in the Net". On "Net" there was one spot where the guitar was a little too hot, which of course meant it was too low everyplace else.


2007-06-19 09:37 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

Recorded unison and low harmony vocals for "Someplace in the Net". I think it'll work this time. I'll go solo on the verses (where I was having massive trouble with the harmony before) and two or three parts on the choruses.


2007-06-16 10:31 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

No, I probably shouldn't be allowed to try singing harmony. Finally have a decent lead track for "Someplace in the Net", but the harmony isn't where I want it yet. (We're not even going to mention that annoying hesitation in the intro.)

Also recorded a fresh shaker part for "TEOTW" only to find that I still preferred the previous one. Three steps forward, two steps back, I think.

for the insatiably curious )

I think I'll stick a fork in "TEOTW", and see what I can do with "Net" again tomorrow. I may try guitar for a couple of harmony parts -- I can tune my guitar.

And I have to come up with a setlist for the Tres Gique gig at Westercon, which is coming up in (urk!) two weeks! We won't have [livejournal.com profile] cflute, but we'll have Joyce and Jordan. It'll be good. 10pm Saturday after Alexander James, so we might actually have an audience (if they don't all leave).

General note: I will not be taking preorders for any future albums until they're actually in duplication. I was stupid this time.


2007-06-16 05:16 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

Put down a new shaker part for "TEOTW" now that the horrible sync problems are fixed, and put down new vocals for "Someplace in the Net" I also tried, with mixed success, to put down a low harmony part. I'm not very good at harmony, I'm afraid, but I'm going to keep at it for a while.

Discovered fairly early that Robin's harmony part was fighting with me on pitch; I muted it during the recording and will probably end up dropping it. I also tried whistling a high harmony -- that has promise, but I don't think I can carry it off consistently through the whole song.

Also did a little more toward the tray card and insert booklet layout.


2007-06-12 08:28 pm
mdlbear: (audacity)

It seems that Musician's Friend is having a "moving our warehouse" sale. The old bear can't resist the shiny stuff, so I snarfed up a pair of CAD GXL3000 PRO multi-pattern mics for $70 each. List is $219, they say. They arrived today. Sweet!

Gave a listen to the current state of CC&S in the car -- level problems on 5 tracks, plus the two that still need major work. Getting there.

mdlbear: (audacity)

From this post by [livejournal.com profile] eleccham comes a link to this article in The Times titled "Why music really is getting louder". Basically it's about the current practice of mastering music so damned loud that it clips.

The article has a few inaccuracies: for example, it confuses the kind of dynamic range compression done at mastering time with the kind of data compression done by codecs like MP3. But the fact remains, a lot of popular music these days is compressed to within a fraction of an inch of its life, destroying any dynamic range it might originally have had.

Fortunately, I don't listen to that kind of music, nor do I intend to subject my listeners to it. I do a minimum of compression on my CD tracks, and I do it by hand in Audacity using the Envelope tool. That lets me bring down the notes where I whack a chord too hard, or the verses where I lean to close to the mic, or the spots where I pop a "P", without affecting the overall dynamic range of the music.

Not that I have a whole lot of dynamic range when I'm singing. The main challenge in the final phases of the mixing will be making sure that the songs where it's just me and the guitar don't have me sounding louder than the ones where I have backup. That will require overriding the standard normalization parameters for just those songs during the build, so as not to maximize their volume.

I've also decided not to throw money at Oasis to have my CD professionally mastered. Maybe next time, if I can find an engineer I can trust who's local and who has done folk music before. For the moment I think I can do fairly well in Audacity, which also gives me the opportunity to correct my problems at the track level before they get mixed down.

mdlbear: (grrr)

The main problem I spent all morning chasing, lack of audio on the newly-refurbished recording machine Harmony, turned out to be not having my userID in the appropriate groups for using audio devices.

Head, meet desk.

I did, however, acquire what I hope will be a quiet CPU fan for it, and in either case I may very well end up moving the Delta 66 soundcard into the office to trantor. Especially after I get the last of the tracks I need recorded, which hopefully will be sometime this week.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A major string of annoyances in the recording/editing workflow:

  1. The hard drive in my recording machine (harmony) died.
  2. I've had the devil's own time getting it up and running with the old 40GB drive it used to have, in part because I stupidly tried to add a third memory stick to it. Turns out it can only handle two of whatever I already had in it.
  3. The soundcard in my main workstation (trantor) doesn't have the bass response I need to detect excessive booming in my guitar.
  4. The Linux sound system (ALSA) appears to get massively confused when I try to log in simultaneously on two different machines with different sound configurations. Which means I can't easily use harmony for editing the way I was a few weeks ago when it still had its old disk.
  5. Harmony doesn't have enough compute power and RAM anyway, and it's a little too noisy to keep in the studio bedroom in any case.
  6. Although I could swear that I had my USB audio interface (an Edirol UA-25) working on Linux at one point, it doesn't seem to be working now. So I can't use it on the workstation. (It's possible that I could use it if I could figure out the right magic config stuff to use with ALSA.)
  7. I've wasted much of yesterday evening and all of this morning finding all this out.

For now I'll record on harmony, edit on trantor and use dead reckoning on the EQ, but it will probably be worth my while to either move the good sound card to trantor, or get another like it. And right now the office is almost quiet enough to record in, so that may actually work.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Worked on "Daddy's World", "Demon Lover", and "World Inside the Crystal" last night. "Daddy's World" might want some choruses from Emmy; I'm going to try that as soon as I can put together a recording machine that actually works.

Ever since the hard drive on Harmony failed on Tuesday, I've had problems with both of my pro-quality audio interfaces, leaving me with the UA-25 on the Mac laptop as the only useable solution. Not good. I'm going to try a reinstall on Harmony, which is temporarily patched up with its old (40 GB) drive in a somewhat unknown state. (Translation: I thought it was working, but it's been behaving weirdly.)

mdlbear: (grrr)

The pre-printed disks for About Bleeding Time are in process. I found out when the proof came back that I'd sent them an older version of the artwork, minus the cool HyperSpace Express logo and link to the (currently nonexistent) HyperSpace Express website. Approved it anyway -- I'll put the logo on the insert, and the site isn't up yet anyway. One less thing to do before Baycon.

Spent wasted the entire rest of the day trying to make a cd-extra -- that's a two-session disk with audio in the first session and a CD-ROM data file in the second session. Doing it the documented way from the command line gives me a CD-ROM that appears to be empty. (See my post in [livejournal.com profile] linux for details if you think you can help.)

Nero for Linux writes a CD-ROM with directories but no file contents. I was pretty impressed that it even existed, but it's clearly seriously broken. Just as well -- you can only use it from the GUI, so it would be a major disruption of my script-heavy workflow. Not only that, the GUI is annoying and clumsy -- there aren't any keyboard shortcuts for adding a file to the disk, there's no way to get CD text from a file, and the audio tracks all default to copy-protected. Blerg.

Tomorrow I may make an attempt to use k3b; otherwise I'll just fall back to a CD-ROM with audio tracks, which I know works.

This is not a happy bear.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat and [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf are off at a Baycon -- or is it Westercon? -- meeting; a newly-arrived [livejournal.com profile] selkit is in the living room hacking something in SL, and the [livejournal.com profile] super_star_girl's plans for the afternoon have fallen through. I'll have to see if there's something I can do to amuse her. Meanwhile, the taxes are done except for the printing; I want to walk the Wolfling through hers and make sure she doesn't need her tuition as a deduction. I can use it if she doesn't.

Meanwhile, I still need to work on bringing up the new gateway system, and make sure there's no more recording I need to do. Some of the parts I put down over the last week seemed a bit shaky. And there's still a bit of percussion work needed.


2007-04-09 09:35 am
mdlbear: (audacity)

In hopes of getting back into the groove of recording, I went over the current versions of "Daddy's World", "Little Computing Machine", and "I Wanna be a Webmaster", which I had identified as having .wav files that were older than the corresponding audacity projects. The first two were in pretty decent shape after a bit of clean-up; the latter still needs plenty of work.

Still need to look at "Someplace in the Net" -- I'll do that tonight -- and retake vocals on "Daddy's World", guitar on "TEOTWAWKI", and both parts on "Wannabe". After that it's just mixing, finally.

And did I mention taxes? Taxes. And system administration for the new DSL setup. Busy week ahead.

mdlbear: (audacity)

After looking unsuccessfully for an isolation transformer at Guitar Showcase over the weekend, I ordered a Rolls "Buzz Off" from Musician's Friend on Monday. Since the box was $60 and they have free shipping on orders over $99, I threw in a couple of other items including a mic stand bag, low profile mic stand base, and a couple of Swirlygig SwirlyBigger drink holders, which fit larger-diameter stands like guitar stands and music stands. (Added: and they even threw in a couple of free microphone cables.) They arrived today.

The Buzz Off was everything I had hoped for: with an isolation transformer on each end of the line, 100ft of Cat5 sounds, at least to my ageing ears, just like nothing at all. That means that I can leave my fast, quiet recording box in the bedroom and, thanks to X11 over gigabit ethernet, edit in comfort on the 17" monitor in the office.

In other news, much of the flinging of trash into the dumpster seems to have been done already by my hard-working, helpful (??!) kids. Or their hard-working, helpful clones. I'm not complaining either way.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

As of this morning there's an enormous green dumpster looming in our driveway. The name "$99 Dumpster" is somewhat misleading -- delivery and pickup is $99, but that doesn't cover roughly $200 in dump fees. Doesn't matter -- we still need it. The amount of junk in the kids' rooms was simply amazing, and we can use the opportunity to clean out the back yard and garage as well.

I'm going to have to get some work gloves, aren't I?

I'm also pretty sleepy (though a lot less so than an hour ago before I got up and put away the dishes). I don't think I slept very well last night.

And for some reason a couple of health care receipts have gone missing. Probably at work.

(Aside to the [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf, who finally figured out that a company going rapidly down the tubes, with a pair of bosses arguing with one another in front of the employees, is causing a large part of her stress at the moment: congratulations and good luck. This will let you get your AA at least a quarter earlier, so the next job should be a lot better.)

I think tomorrow I can get get started on the taxes, and hopefully finish recording over the weekend. Along with everything else. That means I have to go through the piles of paper that have accumulated on my desk. Again. Had to get done anyway.

mdlbear: (audacity)

One thing I forgot to mention from the weekend was the way I calibrated Audacity's latency compensation. The current stable version, 1.2, does a pretty good job of synchronizing newly-recorded tracks with what was playing when you recorded them, but it's not perfect and not adjustable. The new version, 1.3, has adjustable compensation. Unfortunately, what comes out of the box is practically unuseable -- there's a huge lag, and at first I compensated by time-shifting the new track by hand, which is obviously highly error-prone.

So Saturday afternoon, before I did any actual recording, I calibrated it. I recorded a dozen seconds worth of clicks (by tapping my guitar's pick guard with a fingernail, which gives a nice sharp attack), then cranked the volume up and recorded a track with the appropriate earpiece of the headphones held up close to a mic.

I still had to amplify the resulting track by 30dB in order to actually see the resulting waveform -- headphones are meant to operate in a small, closed volume. But it worked. (Note: "amplify" is the first or second on the menu of built-in effects.) (Hint -- vary the click pattern so you can see which direction you have to adjust.)

The way you get the exact timing between clicks is to zoom way in and select the gap. Set the selection display at the bottom of the screen (another new Audacity 1.3 feature) to show the selection length in milliseconds.

After a little trial-and-error, I found that the correct latency compensation for my setup was -140ms. There's also a buffer parameter which defaults to 100ms; I cranked it up to 200. Don't know whether I had to or not, but it seemed like the right thing to do.


mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

It's pretty clear that I'm not likely to get much more done today. If I persist, I'm likely to do something stupid. Still, the day hasn't been entirely unproductive.

Thanks to a little experimentation with compression, it looks as though "Paper Pings", "Stuck Here", and "Uncle Ernie's" won't have to be re-recorded. Stick a fork in 'em. I've done preliminary merging on "Little Computing Machine" and "Mushrooms" -- they just need a little volume adjustment and reverb.

Spent a lot of time -- too much, really -- beating on "I Wanna Be a Webmaster". It's not salvageable, but the experimentation was worthwhile. So that's six tracks worked on today.

Spent about half an hour organizing tax stuff. Not done, but it helps; I think I have almost all of the 2006 receipts filed now, and ready for data entry.

mdlbear: (audacity)

As it turns out, the isolation transformer has some problems -- it gets overloaded with a full-range line out signal. (The technical term is saturated: the transformer's iron core won't transmit any more signal than it takes for it to be fully magnetized. This turns out not to be a whole lot.) So, although it blocks hum like a champ, it's worthless for line out.

Fortunately, my output mixer has a monitor output with a volume control. That appears to cut the output enough to not saturate the isolation transformer.

In other news, some of the older tracks I've been having problems with might be fixable if I apply Audacity's built-in compression tool to each part separately. We'll see. It may work on "RFC1149", "Stuck Here", and "Uncle Ernie's". I've been playing with "Wannabe", which has other problems -- I can do anything I want to the scratch tracks because, well, they're going to get scratched. (Problems include clipping on a most plosives, and a couple of horrendous "clunk"s apparently caused by banging the microphone against the guitar. Oops!)

mdlbear: (audacity)

Worked on "Little Computing Machine", "Silk & Steel", "TEOTWAWKI", and "I Wanna Be a Webmaster". That last may have to be scrapped, though. That would leave me with 5 tracks that need to have both guitar and vocals redone (separately). Fortunately I have nice clean scratch tracks to work from, so it'll be quick. He says.

Part of the problem is that a lot of the older tracks have a very bass-heavy guitar track; my fancy finger-work on the treble strings ends up totally swamped. But if I filter out the low frequency and pull it up, I end up amplifying the bleed-through from the vocals that was picked up at the same time. Since there's roughly a 2ms delay, it sounds like I'm singing in a sewer. So it has to be fixed.

Was going to do some actual recording, but the Y.D. is having a birthday party (one day early), and they've been playing just outside the bedroom studio window. This evening and tomorrow.

At least it's now feasible for me to edit in the office without moving the recording machine back and forth. Yay for Linux and X, which make it possible to have a program (Audacity, in this case) running on one machine while displaying on another. It actually improves the performance because the work is split between the two CPUs.

Why do I have the feeling that Hackers' Heaven might end up being a Tres Gique album rather than a solo? How did it get to be so close to tax day? Where am I going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

mdlbear: (audacity)

After my walk I went back to Guitar Showcase in search of a second isolation transformer, but realized on the way over that I might not need one. Just as well, since they didn't have any on hand. All I really had to do was move the transformer from the office end of the cable to the bedroom studio end, which put a balanced signal on the entire cable run by decoupling it from ground. The result is still noticeable, but not nearly as bad. It's essentially inaudible (at least to these ageing ears) at my usual listening level.

I could do even better if the monitors had balanced inputs, but a quick look at the manual shows that they don't. I'll have to look for another isolation transformer eventually, but it's good enough now.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Everything takes longer and costs more.

Today it was mostly "takes longer". It took much longer than I expected to put the mic stands back where they belong, clear a space for the computer, shut down and disconnect the computer in the office, and bring it back up in the bedroom studio.

Then it took a lot longer than I would have liked to get the Cat6 cable run back in operation. It didn't work when I installed it -- I figured (correctly, as it turned out) that the problem was screwed-up plugs. I ended up cutting off both ends' plugs and connecting them to a patch panel on the office end, and a modular jack in the garage attic. Naturally this required several tests, each of which meant a round trip up and down the garage stairs. Par for the course.

This freed up the the old Cat5 run I'd been using, leaving me free to use it as I'd originally intended: to run audio for editing, so I don't have to waste two hours moving the box the next time. It took longer than I expected. Surprise. And I wasn't expecting the sound quality to be particularly good, but I wasn't expecting nearly as much 60Hz hum as I ended up getting, either. Not nice

(A few minutes later) An isolation transformer (Furman ISOpatch) helps a lot. And I'll be the rest of the problem is caused by the fact that there are two independent paths for what is really the same ground. (A few minutes later) Maybe not: shorting the two grounds at this end doesn't seem to help, and I know they're shorted at the other end. I may just be stuck with it for now.

If I had real differential signals this probably wouldn't be a problem. At least now it's down to the point where it's not really noticable when I'm actually editng. So I could edit now, except that I'll need to go to bed soon.

mdlbear: (audacity)

This morning, after getting up significantly later than usual (even factoring in the extra hour due to the time change), I finished up work on the Tres Gique concert at Consonance. This consisted mostly of fixes to scripts and makefiles; not surprisingly a couple of bugs showed up. There will be a little more hacking involved around [livejournal.com profile] cflute and [livejournal.com profile] tibicina's set, since I don't have distribution rights on the songs. That means I'll have to keep them out of the index, which in turn means I have to write an index.html file rather than relying on Apache's automatic one. Well, it's not particularly hard -- mostly cut-and-paste.

After that I went out for a four-mile walk. The weather has turned warm over the last week or so -- it's entirely possible that we've seen the last wet, cold week of the season.

As for album status, so far I've worked on four tracks today: "High Barratry", "Mushrooms", "Pigeon Flight", and "I Wanna be a Webmaster". "High Barratry" and "Mushrooms" were the only ones that involved more than tweaks. This leaves me with 7 tracks essentially done, 5 needing little more than editing, and 2 wanting new parts, and 4 wanting old parts rerecorded. I'll be taking a day off this week (having to take my car in for service makes a good excuse).

8 new preorders on paper, and 2 by PayPal since Consonance. The main task now is to set up a mailing list.

Spent a little while unpacking the last bits from Consonance -- I'd tossed my suitcase under the bed and collapsed in a heap after the con. Also boxed up the last of my old T-shirts and took three boxes up to the attic. Did I mention that I bought more banker's boxes? Office Max was having a 3-for-2 sale.


2007-03-11 12:16 am
mdlbear: (abt)

It's progress, but not necessarily on the album. Spent most of the morning and a good chunk of the afternoon splitting up last week's Consonance concert. The Tres Gique part is done; I still have to do the bits of [livejournal.com profile] cflute and [livejournal.com profile] tibicina's concert that I was able to record from the slot before, and fix up the indexing which seems to be having problems with my perl scripting at the moment. Seems to have come out pretty well; I'll probably use at least one track on the preorder bonus disk.

Also took a three-mile walk, went to Fry's with [livejournal.com profile] selkit and [livejournal.com profile] chaoswolf, went out for Chinese food at Jasmine, and Kanef's housefilk (sang "Like a Lamb to the Slaughter" and "Close Your Eyes"). Sleepy bear. Go fall over now.

mdlbear: (healthy_fen)

Walked today at lunchtime -- probably 2.5 or 3 miles. I lost track somewhere around the pond because I was thinking about something else, and didn't go back via the hill. Possibly just as well -- I was feeling a little more tired than usual by the time I got back to the lab.

Hopefully sometime tonight I can move my recording machine out to the office, where I have my comfy chair and my monitor speakers, and do some mixing. I also have to split up last Saturday's concert. I've been pretty unproductive over the last week. Grumf.

At least the gigabit ethernet connection to the back of the house seems to be working well over the old cat5 cable I put back into service when the cat6 flaked out. Hopefully replacing the connectors will fix that. Meanwhile, my fileserver has been up for a solid 10 days, so I think whatever was causing it to crash every day or so must have been fixed in a recent update. I'm guessing kernel.

mdlbear: (audacity)

I am not going to be recording with a laptop anymore if I can avoid it. Having to fuss with mic and power cables, recording software that doesn't remember what input device you prefer, filenames, folders and all the rest, I'm going to go simple. Not entirely clear whether I can get away with just a text UI, 4-line LCD, and an ARM-based SBC, but it should be possible.

It's also not entirely clear how long I can run the UA25 and a laptop hard drive on a battery; I'll see what I can do with a 7.2V drill battery. For air travel... Probably ok if I don't carry it on. The whole thing should fit in a 1U rack-mountable box, or pretty nearly depending on how thick the UA25 is..

mdlbear: (abt)

Got good takes from Joyce on "High Barratry", "TEOTWAWKI v2.0", "Little Computing Machine", and "Mushrooms". Still need to do the mixing, and I think the sync could be better in spots -- Audacity 1.3 added some additional parameters for latency correction, and I still haven't figured them out. But progress has been made.

Check out the new album cover page.

Trying yet another kernel in the fileserver. I really don't have the time to reinstall and reconfigure the damned thing.

Moved the office Windows box into the bedroom for the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat to replace her dead Fry's box. It's noisier, and because she's never used it, it took me a fscking hour to get Realplayer installed and Live365 set up. Bloody Windows. Had me within seconds of bashing my brains out on the keyboard to make the pain stop. I don't have time for this.

Now I don't have a Windows machine hooked up to the color printer, so how I'm going to print sample disks for Consonance remains a mystery. Hopefully I'll be able to get my little dedicated print server going; it's been sitting around for almost a year since I bought it on sale at Fry's. I don't have time for this.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Took my usual three-mile weekend walk today. Today was almost perfect weather. It was raining as I was getting ready to go out (I had shopping to do anyway), then suddenly cleared. I decided to chance it and quickly changed back into my hiking boots. The air was cool and had that lovely, clean, just-after-a-rain smell; everything was moist and sparkly, and by the time I was done the sun was out.

Got a fair amount done toward Consonance and the albums: printed business cards (after buying more card stock at Fry's along with another power squid), wrote the intro page for the super-deluxe preorder package for the Interfilk auction, and recorded a new, clean vocal track for "Mushrooms".

Along the way I also diagnosed the problem I've been having with recording on the new system. )

The amount of work still needed for both the CD and Consonance is pretty daunting, and unlike GAFilk I don't think I'll be able to take an extra day off to do it. We'll see. Recording session with Joyce tomorrow: chorus vocals for "Mushrooms", "High Barratry", and "Little Computing Machine".

mdlbear: (audacity)

Verified that I can now burn copies of About Bleeding Time using an up-to-date Debian Etch system. I can. Took one into the car to listen to on my way to and from my walk. Oddly, it was silent during the first track; this probably has to do with its being a mixed-mode disk. Needs to be further investigated.

After my walk, I came home and got my main desktop system, harmony, ready to move into the bedroom studio for some recording. This took a bit longer than I anticipated thanks to not all the old configuration (from the last time it was the recording machine) having been properly moved off the old disk. But it's there now, and it works; I tested it by recording The Toolmakers [ogg] [mp3], which a couple of people have inquired about.

After that I got involved in one of those trivial projects that somehow ends up taking a great deal more time and effort than one expects. For some time, I've been planning to upgrade the ethernet going to the back of the house to Cat6 and Gigabit. The plan was simple: attach one end of the 100-foot Cat6 patch cord I bought at Fry's a few weeks ago to the end of the old 50-ohm coax cable that I'm no longer using, attach some nylon twine so I could repeat the process eventually, and pull it all through from the office.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. As it turned out, the coax was badly snagged in the attic. It took several trips back and forth between the garage attic, the side yard where the conduit runs (and is, fortunately, accessible through a couple of L-couplings with removable covers), and the house attic (which is only accessible through a hatch in the Younger Daughter's room), and about an hour and a half.

mdlbear: (abt)

Spent most of the day trying to figure out why I couldn't burn a working second session (with a CDROM image) onto the bonus disk, making a CD-Extra. A little before dinner I found that it worked on my fileserver, which is running Debian Sarge rather than the newer Etch. Whether the problem is in the software or the drive, and which piece of software it might be in, remains to be seen. But now that I know it works, I can deal with other things.

Well, the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat has gone to bed -- not feeling well at all -- so I think my best course is to do some more debugging, work on the booklet text for CC&S, and start on the set list for my concert at Consonance. Recording will wait until tomorrow afternoon.

Update: oddly, it seems to be working now. It does seem to require writing the whole disk in track-at-once mode using wodim.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It was raining this morning, but the weather report merely said "chance of showers", so I stayed in, had breakfast, and worked on mixing my album. Finally about 10:30 it looked like it was clearing up, so I stuck a dump disk, still warm from the burner, into the car's CD player and headed out. It immediately started drizzling again, so I drove in a circle for about 20 minutes hoping it would clear up. It did.

By the time I started my walk it was cool, moist enough not to dry out my throat, and clearing. The weather improved from that point; by the time I finished it was warm and clear.

I went to Fry's and picked up an Antec P150 case, which they had on sale ($50 off plus a $50 rebate). I've been kicking myself since the last time they had them at that price; it's an especially quiet PC case, and I found a use for it a week or two after the sale when I discovered I needed a faster recording system.

It's raining again, we have the first season of Perry Mason on DVD on the TV, and I have some hacking to do.

mdlbear: (audacity)

Spent a couple of hours this morning being photographed by [livejournal.com profile] artbeco, who's doing the album cover for Coffee, Computers, and Song. She found a shipping container, just exactly the right coffee-and-cream color, to serve as a background. It'll work, I think.

Got in a good hour-long walk, then spent most of the rest of the afternoon and early evening improving my TrackInfo tool. It will now do the right thing with CD-TEXT and multi-session CDs, and it puts decimal equivalents in parentheses after hex track numbers.

Spent the rest of the evening re-mixing and adding a little reverb to "Cicero" and "Daddy's World". The latter could maybe use new vocals -- they're a little shaky. But it'll do, I think, if I don't have time to fix it.

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