Getting Into My Synthesizer

I found myself doing this the other day, and realized that there are some merits to the smaller modular formats that I hadn’t previously considered:

IMG 3374

Yes, this photo is staged; I took it with my camera’s timer. However, I really was doing this before I realized how silly it is (and how silly it must look–not that that particularly matters) to have to climb onto the desk and stick my head into one of my modular’s cabinets just to make sure of the orientation of the power connectors. Sometimes I think that if I were starting from scratch today, I’d go with the much more compact Euro format instead of the MOTM format. Back when I started building this synthesizer there was much less activity among manufacturers of Euro-format modules. Today it seems that most of the interesting module development–most of the module development in general, for that matter–is being done in Euro format. It would be a tough choice; I wouldn’t happily give up the quality of the MOTM VCOs and filters, and I really prefer 1/4″ cables and jacks. On the other hand, a synthesizer with the same complement of modules (functionally speaking) as mine would take up much less room in Euro format, and as Chris is pondering, there are some pretty neat Euro format modules coming out these days that are unlikely to appear in MOTM format. I may eventually consider whether I can change the mounting rails in my cabinet somehow so as to accomodate some number of Euro modules, even though that would mean mixing jack sizes. read more

Nifty Electric Bikes and Cars

I happened to cross paths with the owner of Small Planet Electric Vehicles recently. The site offers for sale a number of electric bikes, electrically assisted bikes, and a couple of small electric cars. I’m fortunate in that I don’t drive much–my daily commute consists of walking down and up a flight of stairs–but were I buying more gas these days I’d certainly consider the alternatives.

Pee-Chee T-Shirt!

Some fellow left a quiet little comment on my post about Pee-Chees, but his creation seems worthy of special mention. He’s created a Pee-Chee T-shirt, made available from one of the numerous short-run custom-printing services available online. Click here to visit his page and see a photo of the shirt.

Abandoning WordPress–Or Not

Awhile back I wrote here about my intent to cease using WordPress and replace it with a static site generated with other tools. Since then, to state the self-evident, I’ve changed my mind and am stick with WordPress for the foreseeable future.

I changed my mind awhile ago when I was looking at my server logs and realized that WordPress wasn’t really the problem. WordPress seems to be pretty secure, and the anti-spam plug-ins I have in place do a good job of keeping spammers from posting. (The main plug-in tells me that it has blocked over 8,500 spam attempts since I installed WordPress, which gives you some idea of what a site like this is up against.) read more

Praise for Fluid, Liquid and Vapor from Computer Music

Once again, Audio Damage products have garnered praise from those nice folks at Computer Music. The new issue just arrived in my mailbox today; it contains a two-page spread reviewing Audio Damage’s three most recent products en masse. The review concludes with an overall score of 9/10 and this verdict:

Each of these plug-ins offers something unique, and while they’re not quite groundbreaking enough for top marks, they’re essential buys nonetheless.

Thanks, CM!

You can trot over to the Audio Damage website and get ’em yourself. read more

Good Video on Surface-Mount Soldering Techniques

There’s an excellent video here that shows how to do surface-mount soldering by hand. I’ve done several SMT projects now and I’m a complete convert: in some ways, I prefer it to the old through-hole technology. This video will show you how it’s done. It’s very well photographed and narrated. The same site has a bunch of great material and links on soldering in general here, including this link to a somewhat mind-boggling page by NASA documenting their soldering requirements. read more

“Mommy, what was a CD?”

If you buy music and/or make music, you might find it interesting to read this post and this post about Positron! Records ceasing to release music on CDs. This is relevant to me because Positron! releases a bunch of good music, including but not limited to everything recorded by Chris, my Audio Damage partner. It’s also the label most likely to release anything I record for reasons which should be pretty obvious.

Personally I’m somewhat ambivalent about the inevitable demise of Compact Discs. On one hand I understand the business sense it makes, and I admit to having hundreds of CDs on hand which I haven’t listened to in years and may never listen to again. On the other hand I’m enough of an old-timer to still appreciate getting something physical to hold when I buy music, along with a nicely printed cover and insert and stuff. I also think that I never quite got over the disappointment of CD packaging compared to vinyl-record packaging. Records were huge, relatively speaking, and sometimes people did nice artwork and extensive liner notes and stuff for them. But then records were fragile and difficult to care for and generally a PITA, so I can’t say that I miss them. Time will tell whether I miss CDs, I suppose. read more

Happy New Year!

I have a feeling that many more people read this blog than I suspect, so I’d like to take the first day of the year as an opportunity to thank all of you for your interest and attention. May you all enjoy a happy, healthy and prosperous 2008!

(Yes, the site has a new look. Like it? Hate it? Yes, I’m still using WordPress after all. I’ll post more about that soon.)