Saturday, 17 October 2015

A discovery

A co-worker wanted to find a camera in Akihabara, and another co-worker and I joined. And I found something incredibly nice at Yodobashi that I missed the previous two times I was there: One entire wall full with very, very nice headphones. Even a Stax SR-009. Crazy line-up. Some old geezer wouldn't leave that booth though, so I couldn't test them. Anyway, I've had high hopes for AKG for some time, but noticed they're really not my thing, they sound like tin cans all the way up to K712. They had a pair of K812, but naw. Sennheisers only get interesting at HD700, and the HD800 was clearly the best I tested. The HD600 and HD650 are ok, but way too dark for me; calling it a "veil" is a politically correct statement, I'd say they're stuffed. My overall favorite was the Beyerdynamic DT880, taking into account price and sound. It wasn't the best environment for concentrated listening (I got fed up with the in-store jingles already on my first visit in all the big Akiba stores), but it was pretty clear the DT880 is a very pristine sounding headphone. Best thing is my ODAC+O2 combo can power the 600 Ohm model very well :D

I looked at Perfect Grade kits too. They're so nice, but so big and they cost moneys...

There are some really nice things with Tokyo. And it's probably a good thing there aren't too many, otherwise I wouldn't get any work done...

EDIT (2015-10-19): Yodobashi headphone photos:

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Finally clenched my teeth around the speeding bullet (what does biting the bullet mean anyway?) and bought ODAC+O2 DYI parts from Head'n'HiFi. Received a Chupa Chups cola lollipop for free too, lovely. Built the thing during two evenings at work. Accidentally mixed up two groups of 4 resistors each, fortunately I noticed when I was about to install the second group. I got angry at myself and would not allow another mistake, and the thing passed all tests with flying color after I had finished. Too bad OpenBSD does not support rate matching hubs, I might look into that, but the combo did wonders to the sound on my MSI with Windows. I had the impression the built-in audio is pretty good in an MSI GT60. Not very. Very happy I bought this thing.

Oh, photos:

I like green. Says also in the caption of one of the pictures.

Time for supper, at 22.32... Testing, verifying, and figuring it why it didn't work in OpenBSD took some time :p

EDIT 2015-10-08: Some more pics of the later stages of the build:

Monday, 28 September 2015

Blood moon

Best expression I've seen in a long time, how could I pass the opportunity to have a post with this title? Could even have called it Super Blood Moon, but I already had cheese today.

I planned to go to bed at ~23, it became ~1, slept until 2.30 when my watch beeped at me, got up at 3.04, got dressed, went outside, and the umbra was already touching the moon. Walked out into a field and waited, while trying to remember the stars in the sky from my countless gazing sessions as a child. Not a single cloud anywhere, pretty much the perfect weather condition for this kind of event. And at last, at 4.11 exactly, the moon had been engulfed in the mighty shadow of our Earth. (Might as well add some flair, we all know what it is and how it works anyhow.) Waited a little bit to let the blood homogenize over the moon. Then I walked home, made some hot chocolate because it was really cold outside, and went to bed, again. And got to work way late. Ahh, the lovely life of a physicist who won't grow up :)

I took my violin to work on Saturday and tortured some cats in a remote place. Until my neck and left arm got a little sore. I never had a constant 1.5 hour training session without a break before, ever. I need to do this more often.

I only posted this for the title, so I don't have anything else to add...

EDIT 2015-09-29: Why is that Swedish journalists cannot write anymore? How can their bad work go through checks? Every article I read online from the big Swedish newspapers is riddled with colloqial sentences and so many missing/misplaced words and misspellings it makes my head hurts. "Muuh, content matters, not language, buuh." *sigh* (I injected this paragraph with bad for a giggle, calm down.) Btw, I recently watched Idiocracy, good movie...

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Just random

I started reading about audiophilism (audioinsanity?) again lately, and of course the O2+ODAC topic delivers lots of joyful material to wallow through. Will probably buy a kit and board from head'n'hifi and enjoy zoning out a little, both from the building and the listening. And while the audioins-, uh, audiophiles spend yearly wages on equipment to reach for their consumption nirvana, I'll instead spend my time (money right?) on learning how to play lovely fleeting music on my violin for everybody to enjoy :p Ah, the power of dreaming...

Well actually, I have been looking for a second set of headphones with soundstage and clarity to complement my playful Denon's AH-D2000s, especially since I've started listening to violin concertos a whole lot.

Now to the point, the reason that this post exists: I found this gem in an O2+ODAC discussion:
About gear forums online.
Beautiful, made a local copy.

And to fill things out a bit: My violin intonation has gotten quite a bit better. I figured out my own way to practice while on vacation at my parent's place in July, which sounds pretty horrible to others I'm sure, but helped my intonation immensely within days. First, tune that sucker up. Then, pick a piece that you don't mind butchering and that's not too difficult, play it through while fingering every note, while at the same time playing the most reasonable open neighboring string. And of course play each note at least twice so you have time to apply corrections. We all know relative pitch (is that a technical term?) is much simpler than absolute pitch, and if you tuned your instrument properly, the open strings will give you your absolute references for the relative comparison.

And going to Japan again in a month or so, for three weeks. It's getting a bit much :p

EDIT (a few hours later): Could mention that I will most probably go to Japan one more time after the next. Four times in a year. That, is definitely too much. Wait, what am I saying, this is the perfect amount. I love the food!

EDIT (2015-09-18): Monkey Island turned 25 on the 5th of September. And nobody told me?! ... Now where do I have them...

EDIT (2015-09-22): Took 9 hours to play through, started very briefly with the 2nd game today, and listened to some of the commentary. And System Shock 1 Enhanced Edition from GoG, wat! Bought, started, couldn't figure out the mouselook, stopped :p I want to play through SS1 before I tackle the masterpiece, SS2.
Anyway, the real reason for this update is that I just did some frequency tests with my MSI laptop and Denon AH-D2000 headphones. Couldn't hear beyond 16.3 kHz, and I often heard a click or pop around that time. Getting old I thought. But I realized that in August, when I was in Tokyo (was it Ginza?), I heard the Mosquito in a bunch of places. Horrible noise. Now, these things run at ~17.4 kHz and it was within some margin of my hearing. So my ears are actually still pretty good (for being 30...), and my audio setup is rubbish.
Is the Mosquito a violation of human rights? Having teenagers running around is too, isn't it? :p But now that I can hear it, yes, it definitely is... Crank it up to 19 kHz so at least I won't have to hear it.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The far east

So I've spent almost another week at RIKEN, Wako, in Saitama prefecture, Japan. Or Tokyo, if you prefer. Went on a little shopping trip in Ginza and Shinjuku today. No, not clothes or shoes, I bought two Platinum 3776 Century pens, and some lovely 15x15 cm2 origami paper. I'm very new to the fountain pen "scene", I decided only recently to improve my handwriting. Fortunately, Tokyo has a remarkable selection of fountain pens, and I spent quite some time oogling through panes of glass at every price range (3,200,000 JPY was the max I believe). I tested the one model I bought, the Sailor 1911 standard, and the Pilot Custom 74. Very similar and they look very much the same. My recommendation for other confused newcomers is to just throw the die and grab one, and enjoy actually writing. (My choice was based on a huge set of forums posts, which on average said that the Pilot is the most difficult when brand new, the Sailor is the scratchiest (confirmed), and the Platinum has the most reliable flow even after a very long time of no use). I also looked at calligraphy tools for copperplate, but that seems to be more comfortable to get online since it's really cheap stuff.

The food and drinks are lovely too of course, still my favorite.

That was my nerdy weekend in Tokyo, time to work properly again tomorrow!

EDIT (2015-08-22): Finally I tried karaoke in Japan! It all started with dinner like it always does, quite a few drinks, then a casual question related to karaoke, and things went bad (in a good way) very quickly. I still don't know how, after all the food, beers, shochu and sake, I managed to down that last pint of beer in one go in ~6 s that someone else could not finish after we figured that we should have left the room a minute earlier. Ran and waddled around town to find cash at a 7-11 and get back to RIKEN, and then pack, change accommodation, and work the morning after with a hangover and a constant feeling of sick... Oh well, some say I'm still young, seems like they're right. But I should probably not do this too much...

Bandai Perfect Grade Unicorn RX-0 + LED unit. Or Astray Red Frame. I want both :p

Friday, 17 July 2015

Friends from far away, suddenly really close by!

Time for yet another stint in the US! Just like last time I'm staying in the house of a good friend of mine, and they're all really nice. It always strikes me how nice people are when going to both the US and Japan, and it shows immediately already on the plane. It's strange they get so much hate from the rest of the world (also strange how that politeness and niceness produce huge national debts).

I went to Sweden for a bit for my 30th birthday, didn't think much of it. But I took care of my nephew a bit, and he's already a pro at micro-naps. He puts his head in a couch or on the floor for 3 s and he's fully recharged, ready for action. It was tiring, but a bit motivating, I need to find that energy inside myself again.

While in Sweden, I decided to stay off my laptop for a bit. My interest in computers is slowly disappearing. I need to finish the things I want to have finished, before who knows what happens :p

I finally got hold of the "missing" violin books I ordered when I was in Sweden. I'll read through the Bach sonata/partita book from time to time to boost my violin interest. Oh my, do I want to be able to play the BVW 1004 or what... And I'm still playing without the shoulder rest. I tried a few times with, and even though it gets easier for my left hand and I can hold up the violin with just my head, the rest of my body does not like it much. I like the freedom.

Going to Japan for another month, August. I _completely_ forgot about the to-scale Gundam statue, gonna see that.

Time to do stuff!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Doom 4

This warrants its own post.

Because it's not Doom 4. It's yet another swamp gas sucking reboot, and it has been named Doom. And it looks like rubbish. As expected.

Perfect, more time for playing the violin and programming my own things. I looked into the chin and shoulder rests on my violin yesterday, and after some research decided to throw away the shoulder rest. I was never (for the few months I've had the violin) comfortable with the setup, and eliminating one part of the problem should save me some money. So now that I won't have to buy 10 shoulder rests until I'm happy, I can focus on the chin rest. My shoulders are rather tall and far back, so I should get a chin rest that covers the tailpiece. Thinking about getting some doughy thing to put on the violin that I can depress with my chin to see what shape I should go for.

Playing without a shoulder rest comes with pros and cons (of course). I'll start with the one, single con: It's bleeding difficult. A minor con people might think of is that unless you're really "fleshy", you will not be able to keep the violin up only with your head, you have to provide support with your left hand. However, if the violin is under you chin, you're probably playing the thing, so the left hand should be on the violin anyway. Now for the several pros: one less thing to worry about (i.e. cheaper!), less "stuff" on the violin (improved tone according to some, definitely less weight to hold up), improved poise (no chance you can slouch), you are forced vehemently to relax (or fingering/vibrato will be impossible), left hand technique gets lighter and better (since you cannot grip anything due to the need to relax), and it's just the cooler way to play :p I like the simplicity of it, and if it comes with major benefits only for being much harder, then what's the problem? Ergonomics is as much about adapting as finding the perfect adapter.

Programming-wise, doing a lot at work and started a new unit tested widget toolkit for my htools repository. It only provides the logics, input and output (i.e. user events and drawing) have to be provided.