Category Archives: techy

gadgets, technology, science stuff

Lazy biker lift

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Saw this strange device in Trondheim today, it’s apparently the only one in the world! Invented by local inventor/mad scientist, it pulls the tired and weary Trondheim cyclist up a particularly wicked incline.

A brief history of keys

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My brother recently forwarded me the picture above, the mighty Casio MT-70, also my first keyboard. I had actually forgotten I ever owned this plastic wonder so it prompted me to take stock of the gear I’ve used over the years. I still have a keyboard but it gets little attention these days, so much else going on. It waits patiently for my return. Anyway on to the list:

Casio MT-70: tiny keys, limited polyphony, and cheesy sounds. But it was still pretty amazing. Drum beats and comp, real ompa band. And a limited monophonic sequencer, with lights above the keys telling you where to play. It even had a barcode reader and a booklet of songs that could be “scanned” in, teaching music and preparing for a career in retail all at the same time! Ca 1985, cost unknown, not sure what happened to it!

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Roland Alpha Juno 1: bought this from a kid in school, my very first programmable synthesizer. A real bend knob for those cool leads. Real size keys but plastic feel, no touch-sensitivity. Cool input wheel though, useful for tweaking the envelopes and filters but with a 16-line display still a chore. Had a special audio jack in the back that could be used to store preset data on a regular casette deck. 1987, 4000kr, traded for D-10.

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Roland D-10: bought this at now-defunct Flatøy Musikk in Bergen, a favorite after-school hang-out for many years. When they got the first D-50’s there was a huge buzz surrounding the synth/sample technology, and the D-50 did sound awesome. Unfortunately it was way out of my price range so I settled for the “little brother” D-10 which arrived a year later. The sound was still good although a bit thinner, but it made up for it by having drums and being multi-timbral: it could play up to 8 different instruments when used with a sequencer. Or you could play the internal demo songs which I must have done a million times. 1988, 9000kr, currently in storage.

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Yamaha TG-33, Ensoniq SQ-R: once I started using a sequencer on my trusty Amiga the need for more/new sounds was inevitable. Unlike today when the smallest iMac ships with GarageBand and a gazillion samples, in the old days you had to buy new hardware. The TG was a cheapo version of the Korg Wavestation which was the hot thing at that time, the concept was to “morph” your 4 soundgenerators with a joystick, either in realtime or as a part of the finished sound. It was good for synth-type sounds that pulsated or blended in and out over time. Otherwise the 12-bit samples were pretty cruddy for real-world sounds. The SQ-R however was a very clean sounding module with mostly sample playback, which made for great piano, guitar, etc. 1991-92, $500,$800, currently in the rack.

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Roland XP-60: this one was kind of an impulse buy, I was looking for an upgrade to the D-10, and also something with a built-in sequencer to simplify recording. I had spent some days playing with a friends Korg M1 and enjoyed the ease of creating music without the computer. But the M1 was getting old at that time and the massive built-in sound library of the XP was a big draw. Unfortunately the XP sequencer is not made to be used by humans, it is cryptic and a pain. So I continued with the computer. It’s still a nice keyboard, good keys with after-touch sensitivity, a massive display, 6 sliders for real-time tweaking of sound parameters, which combined with the arpeggiator makes for loads of fun. 1997, $1200, still playing.

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Alesis QS-8: big, heavy monster of a keyboard, 88-keys fully weighted, great piano and organ sounds. Bought it primarily to play with the department band, it also had a lot of good synthy sounds. It was a good looking keyboard, with polished wood ends. 1998, $1400, sold on eBay.

Kasparius.com embraces Flash video

UPDATE 2016: Flash sucked its way out of existance so with the move to new server time came to update. HTML 5 loves video so embedding has become a dream compared to the “old days”. One saving grace was that Flash used H264 so no recoding was necessary, just a quick change of file extension from F4V to MP4 and all the files rocked into the next decade. Enjoy! :)

 

 

 

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I posted last months video in Flash format, using the new Flash Video Player plugin for WordPress. It seems to work pretty well now, unlike last time I tried it a few versions ago. I really like the ease of embedding the files, including the simple way it handles preview images. With QuickTime this was a pain and the code pretty obnoxious. With Flash all you need is this:

flashvideo file=http://www.kasparius.com/videos/liv11months.f4v image=http://www.kasparius.com/videos/liv11months.jpg /

It’s also a lot easier on visitors, with no preloading until you choose a video to play. On the downside the preview image loading seems mildly flaky but I can live with it.

So the site has undergone an update to the more recent videos moving them over to Flash format. In many cases I wasn’t able to code them from the original Final Cut project which leads to some quality loss, but the overall result is good and all new videos will be coded directly to Flash.

Apple hits the big time…. maybe

iPhoneI think the whole Apple iPhone show is fun to watch. Apple releases a phone “for the rest of us”, and predictably every grumpy nerd is complaining about this and that feature missing. Meanwhile a million people have bought the phone since it was launched last week, not bad at all. Apple stock is up 10%.

So is this a flicker for Apple or will the iPhone become a mobile juggernaut along the lines of the iPod? Like the iPhone the iPod was fairly basic when it arrived in stores, other more “features-heavy” MP3 players were already around. But fairly quickly through its combination of style and user-friendliness (and later the successful iTunes store) the iPod came to dominate the MP3 player market. Can the iPhone manage a similar feat? Will it spread beyond the Mac faithful? I think this quote from Business 2.0 is right on when it comes to where this may be headed:

Some prognosticators are predicting that demand will slow down once all of the Apple enthusiasts have bought their iPhone.

I think just the opposite. Apple now has perhaps 500,000 or 1,000,000 additional sales people added to their sales force at no cost to them. IPhone owners are so enthusiastic, and everyone else is so curious, that there will be millions of iPhone demonstrations being conducted today and every day for the next few months. That will sell a lot more iPhones.

A post from my Dashboard

So heres a quick test post from a nifty Dashboard Widget called WordPressDash. It lets you quickly post a text to a blog. Pretty basic, I can choose a category but thats about it.