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Journal: Favorite song of the day

Journal by ryanr

This song. It's a mashup by Oli Clifford, the music is Arctic Monkey's "Mardy Bum", and the female vocals are Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath." I'd never heard of the guy before. This track was a bonus on the Mashup best-of 2006 album, which I heard about in a BoingBoing post.

This is one of the things I love about mashups. Every once in a while, you get a song that is significantly better than the originals. It's subjective of course, but to my ear the mashup is loads better. The Arctic Monkeys song isn't bad, I like it OK on its own, but it's not remarkable. The Destiny's Child song is totally forgettable. If you listen to the vocals in the mashup, they're good. But for their own cut, they randomly pressed the buttons on a drum machine for the "music." If you're curious, you can hear a snippet of each song on iTunes.

The resulting song is really good. Great guitars and bass line on the music, the vocals over this music are 50's girl-group doo-wop. I can picture the beehive hairdos and synchronized dancing.

User Journal

Journal: A Dominator2010 moment 3

Journal by ryanr

Those of you who have may have dominator2010 friended may be aware that he's not really have the best couple of days in his personal life. Nevertheless, I present a moment that I find particularly amusing.

We went to Telegraph in Berkeley today for lunch, so he could have a look around. One of the places we stopped into was Ameoba Music. While Dave (one of our developers) and I looked through the used Ska CDs, Dominator2010 is standing around, apparently looking like he works there. At least, some random customer thought so, and started asking him about some musician.

Random Customer: "Hey, who is that bad-ass black keyboard player guy?"

Dominator2010: "Um... Ray Charles?"

User Journal

Journal: Blog

Journal by ryanr

Hey, I'm trying out a proper blog over here: http://ryanlrussell.blogspot.com/.

Some of you may be interested in the stuff I post there. You'll probably also see a couple of dupes there too, since I took copies from here.

Anything that is Slashdot-related, or has to do with the circle of friends here, I plan to keep here in my journal.

User Journal

Journal: Ask /. rockstars 21

Journal by ryanr

Aimed squarely at a number of people around here who probably know the answer...

So my oldest boy turned 16 today, and he likes to play bass. I took him to Guitar Center to pick out some toys, and gave him a relatively small dollar figure to work with. He had previously expressed interest in some new pickups or a wah peddle, or similar, so that's what I had in mind.

Instead, he was checking out amps. He wants something louder than his little 30W practice amp. After some discussion and fearing for the window panes, he tells me that he's looking for a big amp that he could use to play a gig with. He didn't find anything useful in his budget range (no surprise, since I didn't have that in mind), and he has opted to save up instead.

Now, whether worrying about playing a show is realistic or not isn't terribly important, and no reason to not indulge him.

But I have no idea what is neccessary for playing your typical local dive show. Is the band expected to bring enough noise to power the whole thing themselves? Do the venues always have in-house stuff? Is the player's own amp just used for purposes of micing or as a pre-amp?

Suggestions welcome. As in, is a 300W head and a cabinet with a couple of 12" speakers sufficient? Does he need a whole wall of hiwatts?

User Journal

Journal: Rain

Journal by ryanr

So, I feel like I've picked on Solemn's writing a couple of times now, and haven't given her a chance to reciprocate. Plus, the wife's out of town, and I'm bored and the kids are asleep. So:

Tap Whistle hated to work in the rain. It loosened the black from the streets and buildings, and made the manhole diving unbearable. You didn't want to get caught by the Plumbers when it was raining. If you tried to run, you'd just end up slipping in the black runoff. After a couple of hours of rain like today, the sewers would be full up to your knees.

It also seeped into the battery jars, and the top layer of grease would short out the 'nodes, leaving you no voltage. Anyway, you didn't want to get caught with a jar if you could help it, or else you would be charged under the Tesla ban.

The rain made it too noisy to scope the street for audio, too. Not that sound would do him any good at the machine point he planned to monitor today, not from the topside.

Whistle wouldn't even bother on a day like today, except that he had a rare motivation, a paying customer. It seems that several of the local "plumbers apprentices" had named him as the best when the norm had come around looking to hire a hole diver. He was even more nervous than Whistle, and it made him laugh inside to think how paranoid the norm was about getting caught. Whistle wasn't worried, why not get paid for some of his fun? He suspected he wouldn't be able to get the message anyway.

Whistle didn't actually have to pop any holes today, so he had left the crowbar at home. This junction point was big enough that it had its own housefront. Most of the major machine points had a little house-like building on top of them. The house part was little more than a single-story box with a front door. Inside was just some storage, a wall of valves that ran below, and the circular metal starcase that led down to the workroom. Whistle had a key that he had traded for, that would open the front door. It was a simple warded key, not one of the newer pin tumblers. Those were not thought to be reliable enough, though the lockers considered them more secure. That was about the extent of Whistle's lock knowledge, which he had mostly picked up from trade pamphlets and a couple informal demos from the lockers at the meetings.

Whistle checked for any of the copper-clad Plumbers carriages on the street before letting himself in the door. Once inside with the door closed behind him, he headed straight downstairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, he stepped right into the water, feeling the cold grip on his calves, dragging at his pant legs. The rain was seeping from the walls, and dripping from the curved ceiling, between the bricks. Parts of the sewers under the city went back to Roman times, though not under a machine point. In a machine point like this, they had typically been dug down two stories worth, and rebuilt, like a mini Underground station in the dark. They didn't carry any trains though, just pipes and conduit.

Whistle's target today was Lloyd's. They were an old user, so they still mostly used the pneumatics. Usually, only the newer users used rods, because they didn't have as many feeds to convert. There were a couple of exotic hydrolics in town, used in local building carrys, but that was only the standard in America. You wouldn't find a hydrolic in an official machine point. Whistle had a few catalogs from Edison's Hydrologic Manufacturing Company, describing what they had over there.

He light the gaslight, and pulled a couple of books from his pack. One was the city feed directory, which would give him the numbers he needed to check for. Customers would use these to look up the endpoint and route. The other was a stolen PCL manual, which would give him the stamped numbers he would need to read off the pipe he wanted. He looked up the machine station he was in, and found the list of Lloyd's serials. Lloyd's had mostly low numbers, they had been around longer.

One challenge was that, through this particular station, Lloyd's had no less than 21 tubes, too many to monitor at once. Whistle knew to check which switch they went to, though. And only one switch down here lead to the destination he was supposed to watch for.

He found that only four of the tubes went through that switch, so that was the set he would have to watch. From his bag he pulled a set of loadstones and reed flags.

Carefully, he found the places in the middle of the tubes where the plungers would have to cross. The places where, when the plunger went back and forth, it would flip the flag one way and then the other, giving him a visual means of watching the bits. Down here, you could use a horn to listen to one pipe, if you only had one to watch. Well, maybe two. He had heard of one blind kid that could do two at once.

For a lot of beginners, tapping by ear was easier. Especially if you were used to decoding by ear at a legitimate endpoint anyway.

But that didn't help if you needed to watch four. Whistle set up the reeds so that the reflective sides were to the right, where the gaslight was. Once the plunger started going, the flashes would let him read the message right off the pipe.

User Journal

Journal: $5 MP3 player fun 2

Journal by ryanr

I thought I'd experiment with posting something to the Instructables site. If you're interested, check it out. It's just a couple of really cheap parts plugged together, but I think one could get some good mischief out of it.

User Journal

Journal: iTunes alphabet

Journal by ryanr

Blame btlzu2. Alright, this sounds like a fun one, anyway.

(What, no numbers & symbols?)

(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth Metallica
007 Desmond Dekker Deep Ska (Disc 4)
99 Red Balloons Goldfinger
Ace Of Spades Motörhead
Bark At The Moon Strung Out
Coast to Coast Scorpions
Don't Tread On Me 311
Everlong Foo Fighters
Foggy Mountain Breakdown Doug Dillard
Girl All the Bad Guys Want Bowling for Soup
Hotel California SDZakaSkaDaddyZ
I'll Stay Away The Slackers
Jessica Allman Brothers Band
Keep Fishin' Weezer
Let My Love Open the Door Pete Townshend
Man on the Silver Mountain Hammerfall
No One Like You Scorpions
Old Friend Rancid
Pressure Drop - The Specials Various
Queen For A Day Dance Hall Crashers
Rock & Roll The Hippos
Say It Ain't So Weezer
The Call Of Ktulu Metallica (iTunes says 'the' counts)
United Forces S.O.D.
Veronica Elvis Costello
Wailing Paddle The Rudiments
(no useful X)
Yyz Rush
Zombie The Cranberries

This is from my limited song list I carry around on the work laptop. The list is also pretty arbitrary, I'm sure it would be different on another day. Looks like I picked mostly upbeat stuff today?

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Journal: Handguns for everyone! 2

Journal by ryanr

In further stirring up trouble news:
Judge Overturns Controversial SF Hand Gun Ban

So I think the sane thing happened here, and the [clear to me] Constitutional bit about arms was upheld, against a city popular vote. (Though it was done at a State level so far.)

Plus, you gotta love this sentence from the article:

Measure H was placed on the November ballot by the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors, who were frustrated by an alarmingly high number of gun-related homicides in the city of 750,000.

Wow. Abuse the ambiguity of the English language much?

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Journal: Want to see my kids? 10

Journal by ryanr

So last weekend, I went to the Makers Faire. I wish I had taken the kids, there was lots of cool stuff for them to do and see. But the way things had worked out, I hadn't planned for that well. I'll make an effort to take them next year.

So while I was there, I bought them a 10-pack of throwies. It was $20, which I think is a pretty decent deal.

So I helped the kids make them, and took pictures.

I'm trying to get a few things done here. I'm trying to learn to use a camera properly, I'm showing off the kids, and I'm trying out the flickr thing. The cat's dead, so you get pics of the kids.

The pics are mostly the kids playing with the throwies, but there's also a shot in there of my youngest boy playing with the Nintendo DS, and my oldest transcribing some music. I've been fairly impressed with the kids' music work. The oldest two seem to be putting in some real effort. The bass player has a good ear, and seems to be able to play just about any bass part he wants. He also took a Mighty Bosstones song, looked up the tab for part of it, and wrote it out as sheet music for trumpet, so his brother could play along with him.

The youngest in there is a camera hound, and insists on being in every shot. That's why you see her in most of them. And yes, she does frequently wear the princess outfit around the house.

Update:
OK, so I've added another set now, which makes that first link ambiguous (see if you can guess which one is my wife, if you look at the other set.) So here's the "throwies" set link:
kids & throwies.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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