Weblog

Pictures are back!

Submitted by John on Mon, 09/02/2019 - 02:32

A boy wearing a life jacket smiling at a fish he just caught

Finally got images working on the weblog again. The answer was, somehow the permissions for the insert module were wrong, and somehow it was disabled for the weblog entry (on the Manage Form Display page).

(Also, somehow my image style for all existing weblog images is messed up. So I have to find all existing weblog images and re-add them, individually, to every entry. Ah well.)

Doctor Who?

Submitted by John on Sat, 08/31/2019 - 22:50

I need a post dated in the future to see if my new "filter by 'authored on' field" condition works for the view powering this blog.

It works! Sort of! I think I might tweak it a little later on but for now I'll leave it alone. I should check the rss feed while I am at it.... and it works as expected as well.

Figuring out the scale on a fretless instrument

Submitted by John on Fri, 08/30/2019 - 07:40

Yesterday I was at the gas station and I spotted a guy with what looked like a cigar box guitar headstock coming up out of his backpack. I walked up to him and started a conversation, and sure enough it was a homemade guitar (not a cigar box, but he used a box that was about the same size.)

[Just the headstock on this thing was so cool. He used eye screws for tuners; it was pretty badass.]

That got me thinking about the cigar box guitar I made several years ago. Sadly it perished in the basement flood, but I did get a few videos of some friends playing it up on my Youtube channel. Here's one of my friend Ian giving a demonstration on finding the full scale on the CBG... but it applies to any fretless instrument, really.

This CBG was tuned to open D tuning, if I recall correctly. D-A-D, I think, with the low E dropping down to a D, then A, then D. Simple and easy to set up with any regular set of guitar strings.

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Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire 2018!

Submitted by John on Thu, 08/29/2019 - 18:48

My website was down for a while, and as a result there are a few things I never got a chance to post over here. One of them was my writeup for the 2018 Minneapolis Mini Maker Faire!

In 2018, my project was a deconstructed 16-step sequencer, based on a CD4029. By deconstructed, I mean I designed a 16-step sequencer that was split up into component parts. Each part would then have a little visualizer of what was going on inside that part. So the clock would have a single blinking LED, then the multiplexers would have a couple different visualizers based on what the sequencer was doing at the moment, and so on.

Well of course designing and debugging a number of new analog and digital circuits, plus a half dozen other crazy ideas I tried to tack on to it during the development process, wound up being extremely ambitious. I had a vision that was much bigger than I was able to pull off. But ultimately, with a little help from a friend, I did get the sequencer working.

Unfortunately it rained pretty badly that day so I think overall fair attendance was down, but I still got quite a few people stopping by. The kids liked the sequencer because they could crank the clock rate up and make all kinds of weird beeps and boops. But it was obvious when an actual musician stopped by because they'd dial in a beat and get people dancing in the space of about 15-20 seconds.

I recorded the video just before taking down the booth. I was totally exhausted recording this, and then I realized, while I was making the video, once I got to the circuit itself there was no way I had the intellectual capacity to explain what was going on. This lead to the immortal words:

It's a circuit
There's parts
I don't know how to explain it

Overall, it was great, I still have the sequencer (awaiting repairs) in my living room. The voltage controlled oscillator I used in this project is the same VCO I used in the keyboard synth I made for the 2017 Maker Faire.

And we're back!

Submitted by John on Wed, 08/28/2019 - 06:59

Whew, my website was so messed up I don't even.

In the process of bringing it back online I've made some changes:

  • When I upgraded to Drupal 8, my theme that I've had for years never made the upgrade. When I did the D7->D8 upgrade, I didn't have time to spend learning about themes and picking new ones and everything else. I still don't have time to deal with this. If I wait around until I have time to make it look perfect I'll never have a website. So it looks like a mess, that's okay, we'll get through this together.
  • Some of the image styles are not being automatically generated. When this happens, the pictures don't show up. I spent 3 days trying to fix this before I finally said "ah heck with it" and flipped the switch to turn the site back on. Again, we'll make it through this.
  • I have turned off commenting and new user creation site-wide. The amount of spam this website was getting was truly staggering. At some point in the future I may revisit this decision, but for now its true.

I love all you folks reading this. [heart emoji]

Routing around Facebook damage

Submitted by John on Tue, 03/27/2018 - 11:52

The internet was born out of research for the U.S. military on how to create a network which could withstand a nuclear attack. The instructions for how the internet gets your data from your computer in Peoria to a server in San Francisco are still based on that early 1960s research. Recent research shows that the internet has retained this resiliency in the face of network damage. In December of 1993, John Gilmore famously quipped "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." I don't know if this is the first time that someone has treated a social rule of the internet as being as factual and inviolable as a simple network algorithm, but it's certainly one of the more notable ones. With a large enough mass of users, we can treat all internet users as one organism and make predictions about its behavior. This is what I thought of today when the Mozilla Corporation released the Facebook Container Extension for Firefox:

This extension helps you control more of your web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. This makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies. [...] When you install this extension it will delete your Facebook cookies and log you out of Facebook. The next time you visit Facebook it will open in a new blue-colored browser tab (aka “container tab”). In that tab you can login to Facebook and use it like you normally would. If you click on a non-Facebook link or navigate to a non-Facebook website in the URL bar, these pages will load outside of the container.

This is fascinating. The internet is starting to treat Facebook as damage and is starting to route around it.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire 2017!

Submitted by John on Mon, 07/10/2017 - 22:35

Last month I participated in the Minneapolis St. Paul Mini Maker Faire! This was my third year exhibiting. (I have to dig through the archives to find pictures of my previous years exhibits and post those at some point).

This year, after the faire was over, I remembered to do a little video that demonstrated my "analog" synthesizer. Here it is:

I say it's "analog" because I use microcontrollers to emulate analog synthesizer components. The 8 bit VCO/VCA uses an 8 bit micro controller, but it takes in real analog voltages and outputs an audio waveform, effectively compressing a full VCO and VCA into a tiny little board. [2019 Edit: I've since learned the right term for this is VCDO: voltage controlled digital oscillator]

I'm working on these as products, and I would love to hear your thoughts during the development process. Write me a comment below with any questions you want answered or ideas you have.

Thanks!

I wish we lived in a more loving world

Submitted by John on Sun, 04/26/2015 - 23:31

In a more loving world, the Christian bakers would bake cakes for the gays in order to demonstrate unconditional love, and the gays would avoid going to a Christian baker if they knew it would offend the baker's sensibilities.

(Obligatory position statement: I would bake the cake, no sensibilities offended. And yes I understand that in some states (the deep south, for instance) it would be impossible to avoid offending someone's sensibilities. In a more loving world, everything would all work out.)

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