New song, new theremin

A little while ago I bought another theremin. This time an OpenTheremin V4.

What is an OpenTheremin? It’s a very simple, no frills, yet quite versatile little (and affordable) theremin that you can either put together yourself, or (as I did) buy the Deluxe version that comes pre-assembled.

You can find more info on the OpenTheremin at GaudiShop.

Playing the OpenTheremin is world apart from the Etherwave, but once you figure it out (and you put the antennas on the right way!), it’s very interesting and even intriguing to play.

Here is Annie’s Song, on the OpenTheremin.

A clever bit on passwords and phishing.

I listen to the podcast “Naked Security” from Sophos.com.

Today they had a(nother) great reason to start using a password manager.

Password managers

These are programs to manage your passwords. Yes, duh. But they do that in a clever way. They generate big, complex passwords that you can’t remember, like 3jGrkVvaVNJ$Kv*JRCZsg (note, you will be quizzed on this one later on haha).

You just remember 1 main password to unlock the password manager (and optionally use a Multi Factor code to open it) and the manager does the rest of the heavy lifting.

1Password unlock screen

This is one password manager, 1Password. Because that 1 password is all you remember.

1Password will set you back about $3 / month.

Bitwarden unlock screen

This is Bitwarden. Bitwarden is free and open source, and delivers a lot of good stuff. There is a paid option which will help you keep MFA tokens alive, that costs around €10 / year.

MFA

MFA

You probably know about MFA. Otherwise you should learn it, fast. It is a second login security. If someone has your password (which is something you know) and you enabled the second login safety, there is no way a hacker can break into your account without that second option, which usually is something you own. There are apps for that, like Google Authenticator, Okta Verify or Microsoft Authenticator. A good password manager can handle that as well. You go to a website, the password manager sees you have a login for that, and it will fill in the name and password, and also the MFA code for that site. No need to open another app on your phone and copy the numbers by hand.

Link recognition

Following up on that, as I said, a password manager sees that you have a login for a site.

Suppose you get a mail that sends you to https://your.very.trusted.bank.com. You’ve seen that link a gazillion times, so yep, you know it, you click it. The password manager will handle the login. But then there is no login filled out! What the fork?

The clever bit here is (check the bank link) that the link on the screen looks legit, but the actual link isn’t. The password manager doesn’t recognise the link and so it won’t help you log in. After all, this is a strange place and there might be dragons.

So….

Not yet convinced that a password manager is a good idea? In that case you wasted time in reading this.

If you feel this could be something, check out Bitwarden or 1Password.

No peeking; do you remember the password from up above?

Go Vegan

Yes, I think more people (okay, all people) should become vegans.

If, for some reason, “you can’t” be vegan, at least eat fewer animals to start with, to lessen the suffering.

That being said, let’s try the start of a story about aliens.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Brugorians. Not that this is already clear in these few words…

We are from Brugor.

Space with spaceships

Chapter 1.

John pushed his plate away. That T-bone steak had been too much, he’d barely gotten through half of it. He belched, and through that noise he almost missed the sound from his phone. “What…” People messaged him at the weirdest times.

“Hey, John. Bit off more than you could chew?” The waitress pointed at the half-eaten dinner. “Want something else?”

“No, I’m full as it is,” John said, unlocking his phone. “Make someone happy with what’s left, Connie.”

Connie laughed as she picked up the plate. “The dump loves it,” she said as she walked off.

John stared at his phone. Could this be real? He dialed a number.

“John. I knew you’d call,” a voice on the other side said.

“You’re not screwing me out of dinner, are you?” John knew they wouldn’t, but it didn’t hurt to ask.

“No way. If you can, get your butt over here, buddy.” Gary, John’s co-worker at the observatory, sounded serious. “You’ll be as stunned as we are.”

“Connie, put it on my tab!” John got up, grabbed his jacket and ran to the exit of the diner. His car was close, and the pebbles on the parking lot flew as he drove off as fast as he could.

*

John ran into the control room. “Show me,” was all he said, even though it wasn’t necessary. The main display, a thirty-foot affair on the wall, showed what Gary had already sent him as a picture. A true to life spaceship, hanging between Earth and the moon. “I’ll be damned by every saint…” John stared at the image. “Since when? Where are they from? Any contact? Emergency protocols?”

Gary told him that the military and the president had been alerted and they all were on alert. “And there are several others,” he knew. “Four in total, spread across the globe.”

“And no panic yet,” John said. “There was nothing on the radio, on the way over here.”

“For now,” Barbara said, who was on duty as well. “It’s a matter of time before some amateur starts shouting it all over the social media.” As soon as she’d said that, a few phones started beeping, notifying their users that some keywords had been picked up. “Told you so. Did someone just bet twenty dollars with me?”

They checked their phones and weren’t surprised to find messages about the spaceships streaming in.

“Right. We’ll just wait for what’s next. Either from high up, or from out there.”

World Wide Companies?

Big companies perhaps, Apple and Amazon. But not world wide.

If you buy a gift card from either of those companies, beware. Make sure you go to the webstore of the country of that company in which the recipient lives and/or wants to spend that gift card, or things are screwy.

I had this with a gift card I bought for my girlfriend. From apple. For apple TV.

Note that I know little to nothing about the apple way of life and things. Just that everyone tells me how easy it is. So I got her the gift card. And it only works for AMERICA. And she has a Dutch Apple ID thing. Isn’t that grand? So now she has an amount on her apple id for apple things but she can’t use it for apple things because it’s from the wrong country.

This is why I don’t believe apple, and also amazon who have the same crippled way of dealing with gift cards, are world wide companies. They are big, for sure, but they are still tied to regions and stuff, and if you make a mistake, like I did, because you don’t know how they work, you’re royally screwed.

I’m sure there are more examples of companies with that same kind of rigid ‘world wide’ attitude.

Thank the heavens I don’t own any apple products.

Theremin. Synth. Loops.

Yes, I’m still using the theremin, just about daily.

I’m adding features. I bought an Electro-Harmonix synthesizer machine and I ordered a Roland BOSS RC-30 looping station.

Demo of the synth. I had no idea what I was doing.

Today I discovered that less is more. In the video above I had the synth sound prevail in most cases. Toning that down, making the theremin the ‘lead sound’ was a much better approach. Live and learn.

Boss RC-30 looping station

I don’t have the machine here yet, that will take a few more days. I’ve just read the manual and had a look/listen at the options online.

It’s crazy though.

More about this when there is more. πŸ™‚

What’s that colour?

Being colour blind (or colour challenged as some people prefer to call it) has its benefits.

It also has some drawbacks.

I have a little bag in my car that sucks up moisture, and the instructions say:

When the blue dot turns pink, put the bag in the microwave for 6 minutes.

Yes. Great. Blue. Pink. What?

Light blue and pink?

Apparently there is light blue and pink in the image up here. Ehm. Right. Beats me, and praise to you if you can see it. For me, it’s something blueish and something white/lightish.

So how do I tell if the blue dot turned pink? Tech to the rescue, because yes, there is an (Android) app for that! Meet Color Grab:

This is a screenshot from Color Grab. Point the camera at something, and the colour inside the little (green? yellow?) circle shows at the top of the screen. Outstanding. This is what I need.

I used the app on the dot that’s on the moisture sucker and it’s still ‘faint blue’, so I’m fine. No waving needed, not even micro waving.

Color Grab logo

Color Grab is available on the Google Play Store. And it’s free.

If you’re a dedicated Apple/Ios/iPhone user in need of such tech, you’ll probably be able to locate something similar to Color Grab for your device.

It’s all about the pitch

I’m still not a grandmaster on the theremin.

Okay, let’s face it: the chances of me becoming one are probably as large as anything coming from Mars, but I’ll keep trying.

Kip Rosser told me that it’s a good practice to try following random tones and play those on the theremin. I tried several ways but with only two arms and one theremin, that’s tricky. So I got creative:

tone generator

It doesn’t get more random than using a tone generator app and a happy finger. Try the video, it’s not long and might even be educational.

Using this nifty tool I had a powerful ally to go for random tones and pitches. Here’s how it looks. And sounds.

Word of warning: it’s hit and lots of miss.

If you dare, hit play and suffer this ‘performance’ of little over a minute. There’s no music, just beeping and my attempts to catch the tone generator beep on the theremin. It’s a lot harder than you might think.

Does that sound like progress to you?

No worries, I’ll beep the bad words out of any reply.

A brilliant Theremin-exercise

Yes, here I am again, with the theremin(i)

Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus

No, I didn’t buy that one. It’s out of my price range; I know my wallet’s limits. (Open to donations though! πŸ˜€ )

I just did an amazing exercise for the theremin.

Random pitches. That doesn’t mean “just wave your hands around and make some sound” (although it feels like it at times πŸ˜‰ ).

The lesson consisted of a series of random pitches that you try to guess as well as possible without listening when you put your pitch hand where it should be. First you silence the theremin, then you place your hand, and then you bring up the volume and listen. And correct if you’re wrong (which you will be).

Awesome. Thank you, Kip Rosser, for this amazing set of videos.

Theremin, continued.

Maybe you notice that there’s “Theremin” in the title, not “theremini”, just like in my previous post.

Even though I own a Moog Theremini, I don’t intend to use it as that, but as a practice-theremin.

Something I discovered on the fifth day of owning the device is that I despise the pitch correction.

This is one of the biggest sales pitches (pun intended) for the theremini. It makes it nearly impossible to miss a correct note.

Automatic pitch correction at work.

This is how automatic pitch correction sounds and works. Go ahead, click it. It doesn’t sound bad at all.

And still I plan on not using it. This amazing feature makes it not sound like a theremin. A theremin needs the sweeping sound, as if it’s a human voice.

Okay, okay, after only a week of owning and attempting to use it, I probably am having too much of an opinion already, but this is how it feels to me. After having seen hours of theremin videos (there’s more than you might think) and hearing many hours of the sound, the pitch correction is not theremin. Unfortunately (for me), most of the Theremini’s presets are loaded with that pitch correction built in. Enter the sound librarian/editor.

With this nifty program I will be able to change everything I think could be improved. But before that happens, I will make myself master the Theremini some more.

Here is a short clip I made after owning the instrument almost a week.

All the usual warnings (own risk, etc) apply.

I’m amazed by the sensitivity of the pitch antenna. I read somewhere that you play the theremin with your whole body, and it’s true. Move a foot and it affects the tone. Sway with your upper body just a bit and it affects the tone. Impressive and intriguing.

Challenge, again, accepted.