Sunday, 20 May 2018

Fake vacation

Went to Dubrovnik for a Collaboration Workshop, a very nice place. The three best things were the City Wall (a good challenge for people with vertigo), going up the mountain (another challenge but not so intense), and the seafood. I missed Lokrum, that would probably have been nice. They're milking Game of Thrones way too much, at least for someone who doesn't care for it ;) And, how could I have lived with myself, calling myself a nerd, if I hadn't had gone to the Sponza atrium. Somehow we managed to get in for free, and there were hardly anybody there, so I took a lot of reference photos. The next floor was closed though, these days it's an archive for centuries old documents that should be kept away from grubby hands. I tried to walk along the coast on the last day, not so easy, but I got to break in my Fjällräven Abisko Friluft. Very comfortable, although I was thinking maybe I should have gotten the women's size, the fins don't hug me very well... Some pix (too lazy to align them nicely):

As for the actual workshop, or rather the meeting, we really have a huge job ahead of us until the commissioning run in October. Two weeks in Sweden coming up, then I'll probably have not a single day of vacation until the end of the year :)

VIOLIN! I haven't played for a week, argh! But first, oatmeal with a mug of coffee.

EDIT 2018-05-21: Overdosed a bit on the violin practice yesterday, I should do that more often. And yet again I figured it really helps to not play for a short period of time, feels like some bad habits wane. Most probably it's an increase of motivation after a little break. Pentecost holiday in Germany today, so I'll play a little more, and probably work a bit from home.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

That was fast

I've been pondering for some time to get HD6XX. I saw the currently active Massdrop when buying the Fuji keycap, and thought my Denon AH-D2000 workhorse which has been alone since 2010-2011 should get a friend. Actually, what first caught my eyes was the beautiful TH-X00 drop, but that's very similar to my D2000, and then I saw the super-cheap HD6XX drop. VAT + Zoll, and delivery late August this year, blech. Another turn of gear lamenting, weeks of browsing, reading, thinking, contemplating the meaning of life, bidding and losing on used HD650:s on Ebay, in the end I put in an order late Thursday evening for a brand new HD650 on Amazon. Bit of an impulse buy to be honest, but I knew I wanted it one way or another eventually. Premium shipping cost extra but would arrive on Saturday, Standard shipping was free and would arrive on Monday. Of course I chose Standard. I might get the headphones shiny new to experience its entire life cycle and not have pieces of other people on my ears, but for sure I'll save on the shipping, it's only two more days. Got a message at exactly 12:08 today saying they're available at the pickup point which was open only until 13:00. After I recovered from the shock, I hopped on my trusty bike and bee-lined my way there and was out of the pickup point at 12:35. The pickup point is a "delicacy" store in Arheilgen I didn't even know existed, they even sell Scandinavian häxvrål! In the end I bought a bag of blueberry licorice which is even better, I felt funny just going there to pick up my headphones.

It always takes a little while for me to "understand" what I'm experiencing. I've been listening to them since I got home (except when buying food, cooking, visiting the toilet, and other similarly stupid things), but it's first now, at midnight, while listening to Perlman playing Bach's 3rd partita for the violin that I know for sure it was an excellent indulgence. The D2000 is perfect for the heavy hard stuff and when I really want unnerving 20 Hz bass, the HD650 for violins, but I shall keep exploring. There are too many crazy opinions and reviews on the HD6??-series so I won't say any more about it. My opinion outside the sound/listening is that the much cheaper HD6XX (I could have saved almost 100 EUR even after it'd be through customs) delivery is way too long, and it simply looks cheaper, I much prefer the paint-job on the HD650. I don't care about the cable or connector. Who takes headphones like these outside anyhow? Nutters. Oh right, the one thing I noticed immediately is that the HD650 feels much lighter and plasticky compared to the D2000, and clamp a bit harder. They are both comfortable in different ways, the D2000 is overall a bit more comfortable and feels more robust.

Good thing I already had the ODAC + O2 combo, it pushes the HD650 to loud levels _very_ fast. Read about nwavguy again, the Internet is a funny place at times. Hmm, I had my Denon for about 6 years, so that means in another 6 years or so I'll buy a Stax setup and then I'll be set for life :)

I suppose one can see a lack of care in how I wrote this post. I'm really enjoying what I'm hearing right now, I'm still buzzing, but I should go to bed. *Sigh* I'll have to continue listening through my classical music collection tomorrow.

Photos coming up.

EDIT 2018-04-15: No photos yet, but some impressions: The D2000 is much better for environmental and binaural recordings, its relatively flat bass all the way down to 20 Hz really makes a huge difference for powerful sound sources. Higher up, the HD650 works better. The Falcon Heavy Launch video is a perfect example to explain. When the rocket flies off into the big blue, I can feel my tummy and legs shaking, which of course they don't do, but my brain is convinced they're supposed to. The sonic booms sound great too, the HD650 doesn't stand a chance whatsoever with those. However, the HD650 is more comfortable when Destin is talking, when some pipe clanks at 6:43, and the claps at 6:51. I think the "real sound" is somewhere in-between the two presentations, especially for the clank and the claps. Hmm, the D2000 makes me feel like I just woke up and my ears are sensitive, and the HD650 makes me feel like I've been up for a while and my ears have adjusted.

To summarize in other words, for action films, Meshuggah and synth wave, I'll use the D2000. For everything else, the HD650. Good classical recordings are so nice. As a rough guideline for myself. Best thing is, I have both now, I can switch whenever I feel like it ^_^ What really scares me is I started looking at tube amps, and to fight the urge I watched some tear-downs. Must resist.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Expanse

Wasn't long ago I made a post, but I thought this was sufficiently important to make a new one. I also don't watch TV series, they don't do a whole lot for me. I forced myself to watch some for some years because everybody was doing it. Peer pressure, it's a terrible thing.

However, The Expanse is brilliant, as expected since my brother recommended it _long_ ago. Starts a bit weird, and the whole setting is a little "uncanny" somehow, but it gets real nice for a sci-fi buff very fast. And it keeps building. I remember The Wire had me hooked from the start and it held an impeccable pace throughout, similarly to Deadwood. Every other series went up and down, up and down. But what makes The Expanse special to me is that it won't stop getting better. Just like Hang 'em All or Behind the Sun. It's always what I wished Mass Effect was, every time I tried it, but then realized it's rubbish and trashed it. Looks like The Expanse has a lot of support too. Too bad "thermodynamics" is hotter than "momentum and energy conservation", interchanging them would have made more sense in a scene. "YEAH, thermodyn-, I mean science!"

On another note, I'm looking at new earbuds, since (hang tight) the Fujiyama keycap inspired me to look at Massdrop headphones, which made me realize I'm happy with my Denons, which made me realize I use my el cheapo ATH C505 I got for in Japan for 900 JPY a lot. I bought a HHKB for my hands, I should buy something for my ears. As always it's a barrage of trade-offs: the best sounding ones are not super-comfortable, they tend to not be the choice of regular people and are thus sold from weird web-sites, and actually that's about it. Still only ~80 EUR, i.e. the same price as a bottle of decent whisky, only I'd get years of effective use out of them. Most people insist on traveling on weekends which I don't, I should spend some to make the world go round. Regarding the trade-offs: super-comfortable means people lie in bed with them which I don't want to do, and if so many people managed to buy from "weird" web-sites it can't be too bad. As always I'll keep thinking about it.

Thimbleweed Park is on sale! *bought*

Monday, 26 March 2018

Lots of things

Just had my first run since last summer, and to start easy, I did 9.4 km. This wasn't planned at all, I had forgotten about a section of road that's closed off which added some 1.5 km. Went to sleep at 21:30, woke up at 9:30 the next day... That was two days ago and my legs aren't hurting too much, so I suppose I've taken somewhat good care of myself. Might join a work-related 10 km running event which sparked a little motivation. NEWS ALERT: Was just reminded that this happens exactly the week I'm in Dubrovnik for a collaboration meeting. I'll just have to run there, drats :)

I got to see the legend for real once at CERN, when he presented his theory of a Universe without initial and boundary conditions. I didn't understand any of it. The Hawk shall be remembered. And I forgot to have pie on Pi day.

SRC at JINR in Dubna went fine. As always we'll only know for sure once the data have been through the analysers and scrutinisers. It was a tough end of beam party.

Joined my first Massdrop! A Fujiyama artisan SA key-cap. Which means I'll have to shell out for an SA key-set too, but that's how this started in the first place. Still didn't program my Let's Split properly, but what I miss the most is homing buttons. I hope this hobby won't get out of hand... I even started thinking about new headphones. Not yet.

Getting steadier on the violin, although my practising has been waning a bit lately, mostly due to all the trips tripping up my non-trippy life. Weather is favouring the Bernardel rosin again which is nice, I prefer the feeling and sound of that.

Leather Teeth is incredible. Monday Hunt and Inferno Galore make me nuts. And of course Atlas by FM-84, this is why I will never lose hope in yt recommendations.

Commissioning is getting closer! There's so much to be done! And I have too many vacation days to spend!

100 posts! That took a good number of years, I can pat my back for not wasting my time here too much.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Warm superconductors

What happens if you have a superconductor and the helium supply fails? It gets super hot super fast. If that happens at the LHC, you get that huge explosion in 2008. Now, if you instead scale that down to Nuclotron values (~6 kA) it doesn't get nearly as violent, but it's still bad. So, we didn't run the SRC experiment... We got to peek into the accelerator to see how the conductor had cleanly shot out a chunk of solid metal, much like an apple corer. We also got to see the looong tricky path for the superconducting cable, i.e. it'll be a big job to repair. Let's hope they manage before the snow melts, and everybody is equally puzzled how that would affect accelerator operations when I mention it. So I won't explain it here :D

Still, got a few things out of the trip:

  • I realized how much I miss proper winters, the weak crap we get here in Germany just doesn't do it for me. I was the only one who laughed hysterically while plowing through 50cm of snow and then I walked to the institute with snow filled boots with a huge grin on my face (and in my heart). I was dreaming of cross country skiing every day.
  • I know what prepaid subscription to go for with my smartphone, so I can finally hang out with the cool kids. And stare into the void without talking. Hmm, nothing new then come to think of it.
  • Fixed some strange new DAQ integration bugs, computers are terrible.
  • I need to learn to make nice salads.
  • Taking small breaks from playing an instrument really does help, my first day of practice after coming back was immensely fruitful. Doesn't help the technical but def. the musical bits.

I feel my task now is to try to keep business trips to a minimum and "finish" things at work (hah!). Will go to Strasbourg again this spring, and maybe Norway in the summer, but that's "not personal, it's strictly business". No wait, the other way around.

Lights out!

EDIT 2018-02-23: Carpenter Brut! Ladder tease! Finally some proper new music, and I'm so glad I have my decent headphone setup for this. Ah yes, I made udon noodles tonight, quite hard work if one substitutes the stomping with hand kneading. I blasted that dough really hard with empty hands of fury (forgot to put CB on in the background :p ) and it turned out really nice, but I'll cut the noodles much narrower next time, they really blow up while cooking.

And in closing, the Nuclotron is already fixed! Waiting for some people to decide who goes when and then I'll be off once more I suppose.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Wonderful toys

Toys are great, this is my newest one:

It's a DIY build, and I fortunately found Mechboards in the UK selling kits. And, err, don't mind the chaos on the Pro Micros, I was sent the wrong acrylic cases which I only noticed after I had soldered the four hidden switches + the Pros. Couldn't find a tin sucker :/ All that's left is to find the motivation to put Alt Gr somewhere, and to decide whether I should make my own homing marks (because I had to shift around the rows and the stock ones would end up on the wrong row) or buy a fresh set of DSA keycaps.

Going to Russia again on Sunday, hopefully this time to run the actual SRC experiment. Or rather, a new technique/setup in a suite of SRC experiments.

And that's it, have fun.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy 2018!

Hmm, what to do with this year? Other than the "normal things" (i.e. make a few experiments, use the first local beam for a few years, forcing myself to pick up the violin (and then force myself to put it down before my fingers bleed...) etc), I really don't know. Let's enjoy the ride and see what happens :) That's usually what I do anyway.

Take care everybody! That includes me.