Archive for November, 2012


Saturday, November 24th, 2012

So, as part of thanksgiving, Gayle made a thanksgiving tree where we put leaves for all the things we are thankful for. I found that I had rather a lot of things that I’m thankful for, and I didn’t even scratch the surface of putting them all up on the tree, and I still had a lot of leaves up there.

I’m very glad that my life is getting better – sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but for the last few years, things have been getting continuously better. I’m thankful for all the people in my life that help to make it a good life, and for the freedom to explore my inner space and increasingly the knowledge of how to do so safely. I’m thankful for my band, and for having my own studio, and for my friends (you all really are a great bunch of people) and for Gayle and Rebel and Allie. I’m thankful for having a job that I usually like, and for having a bunch of coworkers who are also my friends, and who I genuinely enjoy working with. I’m thankful for having bosses that don’t ask me to do things I can’t do, and who give me the flexibility to work the way I want to, and who assign enough work that I have enough money to keep the bills paid and then some. I’m thankful that I seem to have finally found out how to not go crazy every six months (at least, it looks that way so far.. there was no insanity in August which traditionally would have included some. Once we get past march/april I think I can truly call this mission accomplished.) I’m thankful for the people I talk to on the inside, and all the progress I have made in getting past my paranoia, my self destructive tendencies, and my tendency to not do the things I want to do. I’m thankful that I don’t have to live the way I was living a few years ago, constantly miserable and knowing what needed to change for me to not be that way, but completely powerless to take action. I’m thankful for the freedom to set my own hours.

For this and many, many other things, I am thankful. I hope you all had great thanksgivings (although I know most of you don’t read this blog ;-)) and that we all get what we want out of 2013 and beyond.

e-cigs ;-)

Friday, November 16th, 2012

So, as many of you who know me are aware, I am a big fan of e-cigarettes. I’m not sure I understand how I managed without them. I’m one of the people who likes the mildly psychoactive effects of nicotine, especially when combined with caffeine, but I don’t like conventional delivery systems of it very much – I’ve never tried chewing tobacco, but just looking at it makes my stomach do a slow roll to the left. I like the taste of clove cigarettes, but smoking more than a few a week makes my lungs feel like they’re being used for target practice. Regular cigarettes have a whole long list of down sides, including that they smell awful and that repeated use of them makes me feel even more like death when I wake up than I already do.

Enter the e-cig. Repeated use doesn’t make me feel sick, they don’t smell awful, and with my newest vendor they’re even available in lots of fun flavors. And they’re about 1/4th the operating cost.

Technologically, they’re very simple devices. A lithium battery, a pressure-sensing membrane, a small microcontroller that does battery and thermal management, and a cartridge with some liquid and a small heating element. You still get the same gesturing-and-oral-fixation fun of a regular cigarette, and the sense of something moving into and out of your mouth, but they taste good. No, really. And you never have to light them, a big safety plus when you’re smoking while driving. They’re instant-on-instant-off, so you can just drop ’em in your pocket when you step indoors.

For a long time, I used Mistics, but they have been having serious supply chain management issues lately – first they were no longer available on the web, and then you couldn’t buy them at any of their listed local retailers. So I’ve switched to South beach smoke. I have to say, their product is a big step up. It’s somewhat more expensive, especially for the battery packs, but it’s better designed – the air doesn’t draw all the way through the battery, making a much easier drag, and the end cap is captive instead of plastic that can come off. (I assume in case of a battery runaway it would still pop off to vent). Their chargers are better designed – with mistic, you must plug the charger into power first and then screw the cig in, with south beach, the charger repeatedly drops the charge current in order to ‘poll’ the battery to see it’s stage of charge. Way safer, too, if you think about it. And they have flavors. Lots of them, and they never seem to be backordered. My favorites are Chocolate, Cherry, Pina Colada (even though it keeps getting that song stuck in my head), and Peach. So far I’ve only found one flavor (Tobacco Gold) that I didn’t like.. it’s awful in a chemically, artificial sweetener sort of way. But their blue and traditional flavors are quite nice.

I’ve also found the folks at South Beach to be very helpful – while I did have one battery arrive DOA (it would trip the overcurrent limit on the USB charger, and on a AC charger would just sit at ‘charging’ forever), they sent me *two* replacements for it, no questions asked.

So, if you’re a smoker (if there’s anyone left in the world that will admit they are), you ought to try ’em out. All of the nicotine, none of the cancer. 😉

I do have to wonder, with WA’s new marajuana legalization, is a THC e-cig in the works? 😉 I wouldn’t use one if it did exist – I already have enough trouble with paranoia without adding chemical help – but it would be a neat product to see.

Yay, MOTU!

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

So, recently I decided to upgrade my music computer to a SSD, because as the root filesystem has gotten fragmented, it’s been having more and more trouble recording 16 tracks at once.

Thanks to Dan Spisak and a great video on Youtube, I was able to do the disk upgrade with a minimum of fuss. However, when I fired up the new mac, suddenly Digital Performer had forgotten that it was licensed.

I looked in the front of my DP 7 manual, and discovered that it had no keycode. Not suprising, since it was a upgrade edition from DP4. But I have no idea where my DP4 manual is, or if I even still have it.

I was very sad, because DP is a $500 piece of software and I don’t have a spare $500 right now, and I *really* didn’t want to be unable to record anything multitrack until I had the money to buy DP again. However, when I popped up my MOTU account, I discovered that in the process of buying the upgrade edition, I had registered DP4. Sadly, the MOTU page had the serial number but not the license key.

So, without a lot of hope, I sent a email off to MOTU support asking if they could regenerate my license key from either my serial number or the Auth-DigitalPerformer file on my disk.

I didn’t have a lot of hope for this, and in fact was already composing in my mind my second email where I pointed out that I was using MOTU for all my audio IO, all my MIDI io, and had several pieces of MOTU software and are you sure you don’t want to help me..

However, and I do feel very chagrined by this and make a mental note to be less pessimistic in the future, they responded .. in less than four hours.. with my license keys.

In general I have been very happy with MOTU. Their MTP AV is a rock solid MIDI router and MIDI IO appliance, I’ve never had a problem with my pair of MOTU 896 interfaces except once when I upgraded OSX (back in the PPC days) and their driver caused a kernel panic – and they had exact, detailed directions on their web site explaining how to fix it. Digital Performer meets my needs well as a MIDI sequencer, virtual instrument plugin host, and multitrack digital audio recorder. I’ve recorded three albums with it, and I’m working on recording three more right now. I don’t know why I thought they wouldn’t help me recover a lost license key – I guess I was expecting them to look at it as a opportunity to make a sale.