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Comment: Re:Heptatonic (Score 1) 111

by coldsalmon (#49775091) Attached to: Favorite musical scale, by number of pitch classes?

Or it could just be that most of music formalisms are batshit insane...

Westerners break the octave up into 12 steps, each a 12th root away from the previous step. That should be a full stop, but no.... then they decide to pick subsets of that as special... not a single subset of course, but lots of subsets are labeled as special...

Its all a big pile of mistakes.. ancient mistakes...imagine if all programming languages were backward compatible derivatives of Fortran, Cobol, or Lisp.... thats the current state of music formalism...

The major scale is derived from the harmonic series. Schoenberg has a very clear description of the derivation in section IV of his "Theory of Harmony." The equal-tempered chromatic scale is used to tune fixed-pitch keyboard instruments because it provides a reasonable approximation of diatonic pitches in all 12 keys. It was invented after the diatonic scales, which were themselves invented in relation to the harmonic series, which is a natural phenomenon. So the chromatic scale is not really the apotheosis of musical description; it's a convenient way to tune pianos. Understanding how a particular note funtions within a piece of music requires an understanding of the natural auditory phenomena underlying the diatonic system of harmony, and chord/scale theory is a language that has developed to describe this. So, that's why there are lots of other names for subsets of the chromatic scale. I agree that classical theory is quite confused and burdened by history, but jazz theory is more grounded in functional practice, and much clearer in my opinion.

Comment: I haven't used Facebook in years (Score 1) 394

by coldsalmon (#49397965) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Living Without Social Media In 2015?

I stopped using Facebook because it just didn't seem like it was improving my life. It hasn't made any difference at all. I have never used Twitter. I have a LinkedIn profile, but I haven't looked at it in months. Nobody cares. As far as I can tell, TFA is not describing a typical experience.

Comment: Cases (Score 1) 307

I vote for poorly-designed, badly-ventilated cases, because they cause other components to fail. Pretty much all of the component failures I've had can be traced back to improper cooling, so you could say that I have had the most problems with cases. For years, my secretary used an old Dell that had a terrible case -- it was basically impossible to ventilate because it was almost airtight. You could put your hand on it and it felt warm to the touch. It was awful. Sure enough, the HDD crapped out.
I also built a server in a mini-ITX case that was supposed to be fanless, but it would randomly reboot. I checked the temperature of the CPU and the HDD, but they were both normal. After tearing my hair out for weeks, I figured out that my RAM was overheating. I taped a fan to the inside of the case, and the problem went away.

Comment: How much uranium do you drink? (Score 1) 286

by coldsalmon (#49082521) Attached to: 1950s Toy That Included Actual Uranium Ore Goes On Display At Museum

Did you know that drinking water standards mandate reporting of uranium levels in tap water? Look up your local water source to see how much uranium you drink every day. Bottled water doesn't have to report uranium levels; see here, page 18:
I prefer tap water, because I like knowing exactly how much uranium I'm drinking.

Comment: Non-fictional vs. fictional cubes (Score 1) 266

by coldsalmon (#48851329) Attached to: Best Cube?

The best cube I've actually seen would be a Rubik's Cube. They're super cool, clever, and pretty. The only other non-fictional cube is the ice cube. I have only once seen ice cubes that were actually cubes, and they were a huge pain to get out of the ice cube tray. So, cubic ice cubes fail for being crappy, and non-cubic ice cubes fail for not being cubes.

My choice for fictional cubes is the Borg Cube. It is an iconic departure from typical spaceship designs in science fiction, in the same way that the Daleks were a departure from typical space monsters. The lack of overtly menacing characteristics makes it the more menacing, and its simplicity adds to a sense of foreboding mystery. I think it was a very clever and successful design choice. It narrowly beats the Companion Cube, which is similarly well-designed.

Comment: Culture and information matter. (Score 4, Interesting) 288

by coldsalmon (#48681655) Attached to: The Interview Bombs In US, Kills In China, Threatens N. Korea

The North Korean regime's survival depends on keeping its people completely uninformed. Here's an article about how even a little bit of information about the outside world can destroy the carefully constructed myths that sustain North Korean society:

"About two years ago, a North Korean who worked in the state fisheries division was on a boat in the Yellow Sea when his transistor radio picked up a South Korean situation comedy. The radio program featured two young women who were fighting over a parking space in their apartment complex.
A parking space? The North Korean was astonished by the idea that there was a place with so many cars that there would be a shortage of places to park them. Although he was in his late 30s and a director of his division, he had never met anyone who owned their own car.
The North Korean never forgot that radio show and ended up defecting to South Korea last year."

The article is old, but I don't think things have changed much in North Korea.

Comment: Aerostat definitions (Score 5, Informative) 177

by coldsalmon (#48618527) Attached to: Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

Aerostat -- a lighter than air craft that gains its lift through the use of a buoyant gas
Balloon -- an unpowered aerostat, which remains aloft or floats due to its buoyancy
Moored/Tethered Balloon -- a balloon that is restrained by a cable attached to the ground or a vehicle and so cannot float freely
Airship or Dirigible -- a type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft which can navigate through the air under its own power
Blimp -- an airship without an internal structural framework or a keel
Rigid Airship -- a type of airship (or dirigible) in which the envelope is supported by an internal framework
Zeppelin -- a type of rigid airship named after the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

I am sick and tired of people using improper terminology to refer to aerostats. The proper term for the subject of this article is a "moored balloon" or "tethered balloon." All definitions above are from Wikipedia. You're welcome. Now get off my lawn, because a zeppelin will be landing on it shortly.

Comment: "Please Print" (Score 1) 523

by coldsalmon (#48486557) Attached to: Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing

I spent years in grammar school trying to write cursive well, because everyone told me that when I got to middle school, cursive would be required! When I actually got there, cursive was forbidden because nobody can read anyone else's cursive handwriting. And besides, we were already typing everything. Every handwritten form I've ever seen says "Please print" on the top. Why did I spend all of that time learning cursive if everyone always tells me to print?

Comment: Automating basic tasks means sales/investment (Score 1) 307

by coldsalmon (#48371791) Attached to: I'm most interested in robots that will...

Robots that do mundane tasks are easier to make than the others on this list (many already exist, such as the Roomba). They also already sell well, meaning that incremental innovation in this sector will probably be profitable and easy to finance -- and will eventually help to produce much more complex robots. It seems to me that this is where much of the innovation will likely happen, so I'm interested in watching this sector. Yes, we can already spend billions of dollars to make a specialized robot that will explore a planet/moon/comet/etc., but this is pretty far from general advances in robotics that will make it feasible to have lots of robots perform lots of generic tasks easily -- and thus to have robots become a part of everyday life.

Comment: Re:Ok... just turned two score, but... (Score 1) 438

by coldsalmon (#48360723) Attached to: The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

About to hit 42 myself and completely agree. And we were thought to be completely rotten teens by adults.... today's kids make us look like genius saints.
-said every 42 year old in history...

"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers." -- Socrates

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!