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Showing posts from 2007

On Addictivity And Connectivity

First things first—after a year (at least) of drooling over one, I finally decided to cash in my almost-two-years-of-non-smoking credits, and got myself an EWI.
It sounds a bit like a medical condition, and frankly, it's quite mental, because I can't stop playing with it.
So far it seems to be an amusingly addictive instrument even with a stock soundbank—I plan on making my own patches later, as soon as I figure out how to use that UniQuest joke of a software—worst of all, it can be played in headphones, so I can do it even at 4am if I wanted to. So far, I have more fun then problems playing it, in spite of its little fingering differences (I use SA(x) mode), and totally different breathing technique.
Now comes the connectivity part.
I've used FastTrack USB for a couple of years with a microphone through the XLR input with no problems, but when I tried to connect a line output of EWI's synthesizer to the line input of the FastTrack, the signal level was very low. There was…

On Variety Shows

Well, to put it shortly—if the best number in your variety show is performed by the quick-change artists, and the second best is Chinese acrobats (and even they cheated and bailed out of properly dismounting from the top of the chair tower), there is something wrong with the rest of the people on the show. I rightfully expect Ellen's Really BIG Variety Show—if I remember the name correctly—in it's dreadfull boringness to be challenged only by the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Should have gone to bed at 9 p.m., but didn't. Shame on me.

Template Update

Nothing special, really, just updated the blogger template for the sake of trying something new. And, yea, I lost my previous template backup somehow, so there was no way back. Now I have found my backup, but I don't like it anymore, so I am going to stay with this template for a while. Who cares.

On Voice Recognition

I: (touch the Bluetooth headset button)
Phone: (beeps ascending scale, then in a female voice) Please, say a command.
I: Call Darya.
Phone: Command not recognized. Please, say a command.
I: Call Dar.
Phone: Did you say (pause, then in a male distorted voice) Darrin?
I: No!
Phone: (in a female voice) Did you say (in a male distorted voice) Dennis?
Phone: (in a female voice) Are you sure? Because I'am pretty sure you said David... Which is strange, since there is nobody by that name in your Contacts. Neither there is Darrin, nor Dennis. My battery is low. And I am tired. And you are nuts. Please, say a command.
I: Fuck you.
Phone: Command not recognized. Go fuck yourself. Please, say a command.
Phone: Command timed out. (beeps descending scale)
I: (sigh) ...

On New York Subway And Late Night Jams

I must admit that I am severely spoiled, when it comes to public transportation. Having lived in Moscow for half a decade and spent nearly three hours a day commuting, I grew accustomed to the impeccable logic of the one of the world's largest cities' "metro". There are, as I see it, two major rules, which the builders followed through the whole process, and oh, boy, they work; they really do.
Rule one: there is one line per physical track. If you got on the train in a hurry you don't have to worry about what train you are on, A, B, C, or E, and whether you have to get off on the next stop and wait for your train, because this one ain't the one you need. It always is.
Rule two: the platform is always between the tracks. If you spaced out, fell asleep, or for any other reason missed your stop, all you have to do is get off, cross the platform, get on the train and go back.
It is simple and it works like a charm. Overall structure is simple as well; one circular l…

On The Last Day Of Steady Employment

It's been raining for the last two days, and the glorious city of New Your smells like sewage and dog pee. And it's hot.
The Internet connection in the office is very flickery, which really screws up my writing flow, but it feels like the events of these few days somehow should be documented or at least reflected upon.
My desk is sterile with the exception of a few things I still plan on using today: headphones, Palm, half-pack of chewing gum and an antique* Maxwell House coffee mug. My ailing Windows box is cleaned up of all the stuff I kept in it during almost two years I had it. My coworkers are conspiring to take me out to lunch (I, of course, already bought one in the morning, because initially the gathering was supposed to be a short run for a beer after work). Darn. Will have to take it home along with the antique mug.
The office of congressman just called. Apparently, my case is not showing up anymore anywhere in both organizations, so I have to re-file. I don't …

Writing A Job Description For Myself

It is kind of a fun assignment: to write your own job description. Nevertheless, worth trying...
OK, soooo... after I leave this job, you, guys, are going to be looking for a Visual Web Designer/Front-End Web Developer with a minimum (well, and maximum, too) of B(F)A, schooled in both conventional (hard copy) as well as fluid layout (web) composition, with experience in image editing, web image optimization, typography, with strong hand-coding (no WYSIWYG!) skill set (XHTML/DHTML, CSS, client-side JavaScript) and basic understanding of .NET developing environment.
The above professional should be aware of the latest Web design trends and principles, and be able to create standard-compliant cross-browser and cross-platform HTML structures and be able to (err... to see them being butchered by the developer team without spiraling down into a fit? no, not that...) oversee and ensure proper implementation of the aforementioned designs, as well as being able to maintain and troubleshoot (i.e.…

On IE7 Upgrade

Since I really have nothing to loose at work, where I am spending my last two weeks (I gave a notice on Monday), I have upgraded to IE7. After that I have spent two hours, trying to figure out, why my website makes IE7 crash. I finally did, but damn, that was entertaining.
It looks like'text/html','replace') needed to loose the replace argument, document.writeln() can not be used for writing links to external scripts, the address bar is not removable anymore, and window.resizeTo() doesn't want to work (that pretty much disables all my portfolio galleries).
Lovely. What was even more annoying, is that IE would work with .html files, if they were opened locally, but crash, when opening the exact same files from the server.
So much for the upgrade.
All other imaginable browsers do display my site correctly, with little or no problems. Even Opera.

P.S. During the fixing fit, I removed the reflection.js script---which wasn't mine anyway, I was just playing…

"Dude, you need a helmet..."

I think, I've found a place, where I can hang out for a while. Roth's Steakhouse on the corner of West 93rd and Columbus has jam sessions on every Friday night from 10 pm to 1 am (allegedly, that is, the real time was from 10:30 to 2, and the jam part started around midnight), starting with a set, played by hosts, as usual.
First set was actually very good, nicely and tastefully played by a minimalistic piano trio (the drummer had only a snare, a kick drum, a hi-hat and a ride cymbal), the only inconvenience was the location of the stage, which can't be really observed from the bar, so I had to stand for an hour in order to see the musicians: the drummer, the bass player, whose instrument looked like it survived a small hurricane, but was a time or two used as a floating device, and the pianist, working on the weathered upright, seemingly held together by the wall, it was leaning against, and some duct tape.
The repertoire was diverse enough to get my hopes up, just a right …

An iMovie bug AGAIN

After several month of not making any movies, I am trying a new project. Right of the start something is wrong, freshly imported unedited line of clips is not being played correctly in iMovie preview window - video stops in about 30sec or so, while audio goes on. If I switch to full screen, it gives me another 10sec of video, then it stops there, too, and nothing brings frozen video back to life. After restarting the app, everything repeats.
Needless to say it's impossible to edit.
It also does it with the older projects, which used to work just fine.
Here is what I've done so far:
1. Repaired permissions on startup disk and checked it for errors.
2. Repaired external disk, where the project resides (even tried to move the project to internal disk with no avail - same results), and where I have 80GB of free space.
3. Replaced external disk's directory, using DiskWarrior.
4. Deleted iMovie preferences file.
5. Removed all third-party plug-ins I had.
Nothing works.
QuickTime Player se…

On Be-Bop And Other Flavors Of Jam

I have a special relationship with be-bop. In short, I firmly believe, that it ended with the end of it's natural life span.
In the forties.
With all due respect to all modern be-bop (or, to be scientifically correct, hard bop) players, sorry. All you do is rotating carefully rehearsed Parker's and Gillespie's licks in various combinations.
Which is awesome, of course.
There is just no music anymore, just a succession of notes in pursuit of speed and fluidity.
Will have to find another place for jammin'.
Oh, well.

Letter To Congerssman III

The saga continues:
(this time, however, I do have complaints about my congressman's office involvement; although they were faster this time around, all they did was to re-state my previous letter back to me, and advised me to start over)
Dear Mr. Meeks (Ms. Barnes):
In your letter you advise me to file a duplicate I-130 application once again, and “contact the NVC and U.S. Embassy, requesting a letter that states there is no record of your file in their offices”. You don’t even say what I am to do with those letters.
My case was either lost, misplaced, or otherwise thrown away two times now. With all due respect I sincerely doubt that “third time is the charm” technique will work in this particular situation. I am a tax paying citizen of this country, and all I want is for my mother to live with us legally, as she is allowed by law. If everybody at CIS and NVC would be doing their jobs as they are supposed to, she’d be here already.
In a meanwhile, she was refused even a tourist v…

Going On Vacation

Can't wait. Silly, but feels good and strangely optimistic. Haven't had that in a while... and this is just a week long trip to Catskills.

Letter To Congressman II

The continuation of the saga:
(once again, I have no complaints about my congressman's office. They could be faster, but, hey, they might have stuff to take care about, and, hey, they help)
I very much appreciate your help with my case with Citizenship and Immigration Services three months ago (being a naturalized US citizen, I applied for an immigrant visa for my mother; the petition was approved in August, 2006, but the case never made it to National Visa Center, and nothing was happening; you made them restart the application process, and they did so on 28th of February, 2007).
But I am afraid, that now it is happening all over again.
There was no activity on the case for over 90 days (again), I called National Visa Center to inquire about the status of the case (again), the automated information line said that they have no record of the case with this number, and I can’t even get through to a live operator (although I am pretty sure, that the answer will be the same), because …

Listening To Public Radio On The Way To Work

...really helps to mute those annoying voices in your head. Just an observation. Highly recommended, though, for sanity purposes.
On a sad note - yesterday's premiere of Pirate Master turned out to be a total disappointment. The show is slow, uninspired, overprepared and totally faux. It feels rehearsed.
Absolute boredom.
I miss LOST.

The more I watch "LOST", Or On Building Underwater Hatches

The more I watch LOST, the more I realize, that there are things I really like about that show, and there are things that annoy me - to my own greatest surprise (for I have been a sci-fi fan for as long as I can remember myself reading and watching anything).
The more I watch LOST, the more it looks like the things that annoy me, are, in fact, the very things that cultivated my affection to the genre in a first place - the sci-fi elements, the things unexplainable and non-existent in our boring daily routine, the things that stimulate imagination and challenge common sense. Like space or time travel, and alternative realities, and dangerous species, lurking in the dark in strange places, and amazing gadgets which do wonderful things.
The more I watch LOST, the more I am closing on the conclusion, that what I actually like about that show is dialog, characters, acting, basically anything, but the mystery behind all that. I do realize, however, that the mystery is the foundation of all wh…

Happy Mother's Day!

Just having a good day. Happens to us, too.

Did Somebody Else, Too, Noticed...

...the surprising level of "doneness" of the top 20 songs, submitted for the American Idol Songwriter Competition is, indeed, just a sign of how well-equipped and prepared all the aspiring songwriters in this country are? I, naturally, expect the work of the professional to be of a better quality, than that of an amateur, but what was that crap about " don't have to be a singer, we are going to judge the song, not the performance..." and "...simple rendition with a basic accompaniment is fine...". Yea, right. Just listen to all 20 BORING songs, presented for the America to vote upon.
Another thing which surprised me, was how strangely familiar all of the songs were. I had to force myself to give a couple of them a rating of 7, and that was just because they didn't sound like something I just heard. The rest - in my honestest opinion - deserved no better than 3s and 4s.

On Fredom Of Speech

The omnipresent idiocy of the general population never cease to amaze me. The Internet has made it clearer than ever, though - people are not nice, neither they are smart. In general. The average Internet user is a violent cretin. This is why I stopped participating in many forums and bulletin boards I was a member of, I am just tired of listening to somebody's stupid tirades about anything. I can (and do) write my own, thank you very much.

On Selling Things You Didn't Make

"The Pursuit of Happyness": Tired of being unable to sell several pieces of medical equipment and facing a necessity to provide for his family, the main character of the movie sets his goal higher—to sell stocks. How inspiring.

I Am Starting To Worry...

...generally, when the amount of money in my savings exceeds a certain number (and that's not a large number), mainly, because I expect various unpleasant events to take place. Usually, the car breaks down. Sometimes I hit something, but sometimes it breaks by itself just as well.
This Tuesday I came to work, parked my Jeep, spent 9 hours at the office, went back to my Jeep and turned the ignition key.
Nothing. The lights are on, though, radio works, too - I have power. So it's a fuse, or starter. I checked the fuses (found two which claimed responsibility for the starter operation), one was all right, the other one I couldn't pull out without pliers, so I decided, that it's all right, too. It looked nice from the outside.
So I called AAA and asked for the tow to the dealership. The truck came in about half an hour and the driver checked my battery, confirmed that it's not it, and offered me to start my Jeep with a help of two seemingly undocumented individuals, who h…

I Beg To Differ (On "Casino Royale")

The first page of hits Google returns if you run a search on "casino royale film review" are all basically the same. Everybody agrees that it's the best Bond movie ever made and Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever.
I beg to differ.
I may not be a true 007 fan, I must admit, although I have seen all of them, and some more than once (I do not consider myself a true fan just because I don't remember what many of them were called, and who played Bond in which particular one).
I do, however, have a very clear idea, why I like those movies.
Because they provide the very best brainless entertainment the movie of this genre can provide. Well, they used to. They had an enchantingly evil villain, many bad guys of different calibers, tons of cool gadgets, beautiful girls, world-scale crisis and, of course, indestructible, classy and cool main character. There would be a half an hour of the "character introduction" proving time and again, that 007 is the coolest, classiest …

And Another, And Another

The things I do, darn. I thought that getting a keyboard will ease the creative process, but, no. It just makes it more complicated. My new bossa, which doesn't even have a name yet, now contains a sequence of descending chords, which is going to make it a bitch to solo over. Why do I do this to myself? I don't know. Probably, for fun. This is my idea of fun, apparently. But it sounds good this way...

On The Art Of Directing

Here is the thing: when a conductor raises that skinny chopstick of his (or hers), you don't see him or her actually play an instrument. You are, however, assuming that the person, who is responsible for the operations of the whole orchestra, is capable of playing at least one instrument. And I bet you are right. More than that, actually, many of them are indeed multi-instrumentalists and often quite capable solo performers.
Another thing - play of film directors. I bet they can act, most of them. And many of them are former or still performing actors, too.
Not when it comes to directing art, oh, no.
I suggest a simple test: take a book, any book, and put it on a table. Put an orange, apple, or an office toy basketball on top of it. Now give your art director a pencil and a sheet of paper and make him draw the book and the object on top of it in perspective. Forget the shading, just the wireframe (that's even better test).
And even better one would be to draw from imagination, wit…

Letter To Congressman I

This is from an actual letter I have sent to my congressman. Posted here to keep track of my struggle with CIS, formerly known as INS, and, to the extend of my knowledge, the worst organization I ever dealt with in this country.
I would very much appreciate your help with my case with Immigration and Nationalization Service.
I am a naturalized US citizen since 1999. Recently I invited my mother to come live with us, and applied for an immigrant visa for her. The petition was approved.
Enclosed is a copy of the approval notice, I have received from INS in August, concerning the immigrant petition for my mother.
Since there was no activity on the case for several months, I called the Customer Service number, listed on the bottom of the notice. I was advised to call National Visa Center directly to inquire about the status of the case, so I did. They told me to send them a copy of the approval notice, claiming that they never received the original. I did. They returned the copy I sent th…

Oxygen At 7 AM

Pun intended, naturally. I am not a keyboard player, but after careful consideration I decided that I need something to enter notes into GarageBand, rather than a mouse or a computer keyboard, which displays just a horrible latency, when you type the notes in. My first choice was, actually, a wind controller (and I already know which one, after reading an excellent blog entry, which does compare both leading instruments - YamahaWX5 and the AkaiEWI4000s), which I still intend to buy some day, but for some tasks, like picking chords, the little two octave keyboard is just the tool of choice. Here comes M-AudioOxygen8v2, hence the name of the song...
I am so easily entertained...