Posted by Deliverator on 31st December 2006
The McElroy family invited the Marsh clan and various others to their house for a New Year’s Eve’s Eve party. Much fun was had by all, especially by Ryan, who held the throne of The Great Dalmuti for much of the evening. Ryan required the person whose ill luck it was to be the Greater Peon of any particular round of the game to show his respect by bowing down, kissing his ring, doing the Hokey Pokey and other silly things. The Peon had to sit on a particularly uncomfortable folding chair, while The Great and Lesser Dalmuti’s sat in wonderful high backed chairs. This is a wonderful party game and I highly recommend it. After about a dozen rounds of Dalmuti (and after having spun around in circles to show my obeisance), I was feeling a bit ill, so I went into the other room and lay down for a bit. While away, the game switched to another game called Set, which also appeared to be quite fun.
A general gallery of the evening is available here
Posted in Gaming, General | No Comments »
Posted by Deliverator on 30th December 2006
One of the gifts given to my dad for Christmas this year was an Ion USB Turntable. For those of you with a born on date after 1982, a turntable is a device for playing back Vinyl Records. While it is very easy for even your average Joe to take content from a CD and digitize it, thanks to free, automated ripping programs like EAC and track information lookup databases like freedb, it has remained comparatively difficult to digitize records.
Part of the difficulty is that almost all turntables very weak “Phono” output which cannot easily be interfaced directly to a computer’s soundcard. At a minimum, one needs to hook the turntable up to a receiver or pre-amp capable of producing a line-level output. There are some sound cards capable of accepting a Phono input, but not many. This ION turntable solves the problem by integrating such a USB soundcard right into a turntable. Simply plug the turntable it into your Mac or PC and it is auto detected as a new sound recording device – no messing with driver installation necessary. The turntable comes with the excellent (and also free) audio editor Audacity and a booklet giving some basic conversion procedures. Essentially, what you are getting for your money is a cheap plastic turntable and some software that you could have easily downloaded anyways. For those who own a good turntable already and wish to convert your records, I would recommend just purchasing a good soundcard with a built in RIAA equalized preamp and download Audacity yourself. If you are just looking for a cheap, minimum fuss solution to convert your LP’s, then the ION USB Turntable might be the right solution for you.
My main issue with the ION Turntable is that it is definitely a cheaper quality turntable than I am really comfortable using. The turntable is entirely plastic and I found it very difficult to get all the wobble out of the belt-driven turntable itself. I spent the better part of two hours fussing with the belt trying to minimize the degree of wobble. In the end, there was still enough wobble to cause the stylus needle to raise out of groove a bit on the upswing of the wobble. As a result, I had to place more down pressure on the needle using the tone arm counterbalance than is generally considered healthy for the record. The needle definitely stays in its grove now, but I would have greatly preferred using a good, well balanced turntable with a quality stylus. My dad’s old run of the mill turntable only needed 2 grams of down pressure, compared to close to six for the Ion turntable.
Thus far I have converted a couple dozen albums and have developed a good work flow for physically cleaning the albums, recording them in Audacity, editing out hisses and pops, normalizing, splitting tracks and recording mp3’s. It has been quite a bit of work and you need a lot of patience and tenacity to get the best results – I recorded one album 3 times to avoid clipping, but it has been a lot of fun to listen to Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel and various other artists while I work.
Posted in General, Media, Music, Portable Computing/Gadgets, Tech Stuff | 5 Comments »
Posted by Deliverator on 24th December 2006
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope the coming year brings us all more peace than the last.
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Posted by Deliverator on 18th December 2006
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Posted by Deliverator on 17th December 2006
Silverfir is back, after having been down for a few days due to a prolonged power failure due to a huge windstorm that whipped through here two nights ago. Here in my area of Bellevue, we lost power for 49 hours. There was considerable property damage in the immediate area, with several nearby houses crushed by falling pine trees. We have two giant pines overlooking our house, and watched them swaying Thursday night with grim foreboding. One of them had several quite large branches fall off and hit another house across the fence from us, but we incurred no damage ourselves. The branches all ripped off from one side of the tree, leaving it very unbalanced, so I am somewhat concerned that another strong wind storm could really torque it good and cause it to fall. Hopefully we will have another 12 years till the next big wind storm in which to deal with it.
I am kinda surprised that Silverfir is back this quickly, as it is physically situated (at Ryan’s parent’s house) in a much more wooded area than ours and one that is rural enough that I figured it would get short shrift from the power company. There has been a lot of discussion on the news these last few days (which I listened to courtesy of a battery powered radio) about Puget Sound Energy‘s handling of the storm’s aftermath.
From what I can gather, PSE has drastically cut back on the number of linemen in recent years in favor of joint support agreements with other utility companies. This lead to a severe shortage of workers in the immediate aftermath of the storm. PSE’s spin-doctors made a big deal about “we are bringing in EXTRA workers from as far as Kansas.” The flipside is that they were so understaffed that they had to send to as far as Kansas to get workers. It is a long drive from Kansas, folks and the passes were closed at times. Seatac airport was also closed at time, due to problems with radar systems and sporadic power outages. From what I heard on the radio, even several days after the storm they had fewer boots on the ground than prior to their downsizing efforts. I also believe that this downsizing also impacted their ongoing maintenance efforts. I can recall several times prior to the storm seeing power lines in Bellevue overhung with branches and thinking “that sure looks like an accident waiting to happen.” I drove by several of those spots yesterday and found….downed power lines.
Another criticism I have heard repeated is the perceived order in which PSE responded to the widespread outages. Commercial shopping districts such as Factoria and Bellevue Square all had their power restored prior to neighboring residential communities. I have a hard time sympathizing with the plight of Kemper Freeman and holiday shoppers when people have and may still die due to lack of heating, lack of medicine, or even their own stupidity in attempting to run a generator indoors.
This may just be a matter of perception, but I feel these issues all bear looking into in depth after this is all behind us. While I am not in principle against entrusting vital public services to a private, profit seeking entity, I am against seeking to maximize profit at the expense of the quality of service being offered. Incorporation at it’s best should be about gathering people and resources together to achieve a social beneficial goal, which could not be achieve through the efforts of individuals or small groups. All too frequently, modern corporations (or at least corporate governors/major shareholders making the decisions) seem to have lost sight of the “Spirit of Service” in favor of short sighted profiteering.
Posted in General, Rants and Raves | 2 Comments »