Off To Japan

Tomorrow we leave for our annual visit to Japan, land of (among other things) excellent temples, gardens, trains, vending machines, toilets, and huge statues of spiritual leaders. It is currently my intention to blog more frequently than I did last year, although I won’t make any promises as such since this is, after all, a vacation.

To answer the questions that seem to come up most frequently when we tell someone that we’re traveling to Japan:

  • No, we don’t speak Japanese.
  • Some stuff is expensive, some isn’t.
  • Yes, the cherry trees will probably be blooming while we’re there. They started opening a few days ago but the weather has been cool enough that they’re progressing slowly.
  • Yes, the bullet trains are really cool.
  • read more

    A Trip Down (Computer) Memory Lane

    I dug a bunch of old paperwork out of the back of my filing cabinet this morning to make room for the new paperwork generated while preparing my taxes. I found some amusing old receipts for computer purchases from the past. It seems that in April ’97 I paid $155 each for two 16MB RAM modules. Today the same vendor sells comparable memory for $159 for 4GB, i.e. 256 times as much capacity for the same price, ignoring inflation.

    About a year later I bought an Apple PowerMac G3 with a 266MHz CPU for $2395. I think the receipt indicates that it had 32MB of RAM and a 6GB hard drive, as well as a Zip drive. Remember those? What a disaster. Everything that was bad about floppies, multiplied by 100, with the added bonus that when the drive failed, it destroyed the data that was currently in it and on any other disks you were foolish enough to insert on the assumption that it was the disk that had gone bad and not the drive itself. I found a slightly earlier receipt that said I was dumb enough to spend $389 for an external SCSI Zip drive. There’s another receipt for RAM that says I spent $49 for a 4MB video RAM module for the PowerMac. read more

    Whatever Happened to the Paperwork Reduction Act?

    IMG 4547

    That’s the stack of paperwork that I gathered/organized/plowed through/generated/will retain for filing my 2009 federal and state taxes. I think its sheer mass presents an excellent argument in favor of tax reform, although I freely recognize that my tax situation is well above average in complexity. In any case I’m quite happy that I’m finally done with it all.

    More Snow

    Most of the snow that I mentioned a few days ago had melted by yesterday morning, but it started snowing again in the afternoon. A friend in Toronto remarked that they hadn’t had nearly enough snow recently so I made a quick video of snow falling:

    That was yesterday afternoon. This is what things look like this morning:




    The forecast calls for several more inches today. Once again, as luck would have it, we have to venture forth for an appointment, so now I have to go out and excavate the car. read more

    Buy This Guy’s Plug-ins!

    You may not know Dave Gamble by name, but if you’re in the music-making biz you’ve probably seen his work bearing the brand names of various companies. He has struck out on his own under the name DMG Audio, and his first product, EQuality, is now available. It looks to be the be-all and end-all of software equalizers. (Heck, it may be the end-all of hardware EQs, for that matter.)


    Given Dave’s expertise with EQ, I’m betting that this one is going to be a winner. He’s also a heckuva nice guy and has fielded technical questions from Audio Damage on more than one occasion. read more

    New Computer, New Snow

    It snowed here yesterday. Coincidentally we had to drive into town for routine appointments with the eye doctor, but fortunately the roads weren’t particularly bad. Today it’s sunny and quite pretty outside:

    IMG 4527

    I took delivery of a new PC earlier in the week. In order to keep up with the marketing hype that is foisting stuff onto sheep-like consumers whether they need it or not exciting new advances in CPU and operating-system technologies, Audio Damage needs me to be running a 64-bit version of Windows 7. My main PC is a bit long in the tooth and pretty much at the end of its sensible upgrade path, so rather than putting Windows 7 on it I decided to start afresh with a new machine. In the past I’ve built my own PCs from hand-picked components. One can save a fair amount of money with this approach, at the expense of a fair amount of time. I’m feeling somewhat short on time these days so I decided to let someone else do the component-picking and building for me. (Also, computers are deductible business expenses; time isn’t.) There are already three Dell computers in the house that have been generally well-behaved (although the one I use as a file server has developed an odd tendency to put itself into hibernation for no apparent reason), so I configured a new Dell at their web store and said, “make it so!” metaphorically speaking. read more

    Ah, Paris!

    There’s a huge panoramic photograph of Paris here. It was assembled from 2346 separate photos stitched together into one huge 26 gigapixel photo. You can pan and zoom around on it; the close-up detail is remarkable. Of the “20 most beautiful Paris monuments” mentioned on the right, I’ve seen at least 12. Tracie and I tried to find the hotel we stayed in but eventually arrived at the conclusion that it’s just out of view, obscured by a larger building between it and the camera. read more

    They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

    TASCAM Spring Reverb

    That’s a close-up of one end of the spring tank in my TASCAM RS-20 Spring Reverb. One detail that surprised me a little when I opened it up is that the transducers appear to be symmetric, i.e. the part that feeds audio into the springs appears to be the same as the part that picks up the resulting signal. I’ve never opened up a spring reverb before but somehow I expected the drivers to be different than the receivers.