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! 😀 )

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 😉 ).

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.

A theremin.

Theremin

What is a theremin?

It’s, as far as I found, the oldest electronic musical instrument.

Invented around 1920 by the Russian Leon Theremin as he was trying to find a way to audible detect the changes in gas density (which was his actual work around that time).

A theremin is the only instrument that’s played without touching it. It’s sound is generated through 2 electro-magnetic antennae on either side: 1 controlling the pitch and one controlling the volume.

Playing the theremin

I own one. A very ‘simple’ one, it’s the Moog Theremini.

Moog Theremini

I can tell from experience that a theremin is hard to play. Having no point of reference, as in keys, frets or even simple dots anywhere, you have to rely on your body and hands relative to the theremin. This basically makes you part of the instrument: if you’re in the wrong spot, things go wrong. But even worse: even if your hands are in the right spot but you move your body a little bit, things go wrong as well. And the theremin is unforgiving: it will tell you when you’re off by sounding terrible.

Position

It’s important to have a stable place for the theremin. I had it on the coffee table and tried to play it sitting on the couch. Bad move. Sitting on the couch makes me lean forward – and move. No way I can sit still that way, so I put it on the dining room table. I can stand there and that’s a lot better. Now I need to learn to stand still.

More when there is more.

Here is how it works when you know what you do.

May is Lupus Awareness Month. What is Lupus?

Understanding Lupus

Lupus is a cruel mystery.

It is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease. It is difficult to diagnose, hard to live with, and a challenge to treat. There is a range of symptoms, and strikes without warning.

Lupus is a chronic (long-term) disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system — the body system that usually fights infections — attacks healthy tissue instead.

Lupus most commonly affects your: 

  • Skin (rashes, itch)
  • Joints (pain, inflammation)
  • Internal organs, like your kidneys and heart

Because lupus affects many parts of the body, it can cause a lot of different symptoms.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Lupus can cause a lot of different symptoms that come and go over time. Common symptoms include a butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose, pain or swelling in the joints, and fatigue (feeling tired often).

How do doctors diagnose lupus?

There’s no single test for lupus. If your doctor thinks you might have lupus, they’ll ask  you questions about your symptoms and they may also do a few different lab tests to find a diagnosis .

What are the treatments for lupus?

Most people with lupus take several different medicines to manage their symptoms. If you have lupus, you and your doctors can work together to find the right treatment plan for you.

Where to find more information?

For America, you can find out more at https://www.lupus.org/

For the UK, visit https://www.lupusuk.org.uk/ or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lupus/

Worldwide you can always visit https://worldlupusfederation.org/

You can also follow the #lupus hashtag on Twitter.

Lupus and COVID-19

COVID-19 virus

For people that suffer from (or simply know they have) lupus, the current time is dangerous. Autoimmune systems will not work well so be aware that you are extra vulnerable. Please take all the precautions you can!

Making a murderer. “God guided her life.”

Netflix

I am following this series on Netflix.

It is scary to see how the American justice system works. They want a confession. It’s clear, from various statements in the series, that this is what counts. If the person confessing actually did the crime, great, otherwise we have a confession and that’s it.

In several interviews of detectives with Brendan Dassey, it’s overly clear that they were leading him into admitting things. Brendan isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. He just follows their lead and says what they want to hear. On video.

Something that also got to me is what the brother of the murdered, young woman, Teresa Halbach, said. Just before the sentencing of Brendan, he said to the judge that Teresa was a good person and that “God guided her life.”

This hit me.

Teresa went somewhere to look at a car and got murdered. (I don’t know yet by whom, I’m not done watching ‘Making a Murderer’.) Note that “God guided her life”.

Why would a god, that is claimed to be loving and merciful, guide someone to a violent death?

This sounds more like the god from the first part of the story-book called bible. The old testament. The god who had lots of baby boys killed and more fun bits like that.

What surprised me after that “God guided her life” statement was, that Teresa’s brother then said he hoped that this same god would help the judge in coming up with a proper sentence. Yes, leave it to a murderer (and I do mean that god) to punish someone who might be innocent.

Really. This whole god bullshit makes me angry.

imagine aliens and their lifestyle.

Note upfront: this could be considered an #NSFW post depending on your work, so be aware of that.

Aliens as often seen on TV

Right. We all know about aliens, be it from close encounters of the third kind, or from films like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. (These are the up-close, personal ones, in case you don’t know.)

Imagine you have the opportunity to visit their planet (and you can actually live there. Air is important, as is food, and there are some more things like that).

What would you expect of their lifestyle? Would you expect it to be like ours? The same social norms? Like having a family, children, a house and the local equivalent of a car? Having dinner together –

STOP.

Let’s assume something’s different here. Let’s assume that eating on that planet is considered something you only do in private. Like we go to the toilet in private. I know, it’s perhaps a mental stretch, but stretch with me and think of that for a moment. Because it could be true. Something we on Earth consider to be normal and social could be totally unheard of, doing it in public on our alien planet.

I’m sure you can think of a few moments here. Keep that thought.

Maybe these aliens don’t have marriage but they live in large communes where kids are born and raised among everyone, not among just two of the species. Or three.

And maybe they are a bit different in appearance. That could be, right? Plenty of scifi films have projected possible alien creatures for us, and they might be even weirder than we can imagine. Up to the point of…

Image from paradox plaza.

… them not wearing clothes, or any other kind of body cover. Is that possible? I think it is. Humans on Earth started wearing clothes to protect themselves from the cold, not out of modesty. (The whole Adam and Eve story in which they covered themselves because of shame is nothing but that – a story).

How would you feel about going to such a planet, where aliens like the one in the previous image walk around uncovered? Unhindered? Free as a bird, or whatever flying animal cruises the skies there?

Would you call those aliens indecent, based on the cultural and religious dogmas you had implanted as a child? Or would you be open-minded enough to accept that way of life? And would you adopt that lifestyle if that is required to be there, walk around and interact with these aliens?

Would you feel… ashamed to be naked?

And how long, if so, do you think you would feel that shame?

I think you’d be surprised about how quickly that feeling would fade.

When using Register.com for domain registrations.

I have registered one of my domains at register.com.

Usually that’s nothing special, but there is something peculiar about their system that keeps annoying me. Even though I’ve switched “Auto-Renew” on since forever, their mailing system keeps bombing me with mails about the domain being close to deactivation because the expiration date of the registration comes closer.

That’s not needed of course, because auto-renew is on.

The past few weeks I got those mails again. Yes, I know the domain renewal is coming up. Yes, I know it will renew itself. Today I was sick of yet another one.

Note: Register.com isn’t cheap with their domain registrations if you don’t know some ropes. A .com registration will set you back $37.50, which is pretty steep.

Last year I requested a transfer code to move the domain name somewhere else, and a support person offered me a discount for renewal: $17.50. Now that is nice as most places charge at least $20.

Today I went about moving the domain name again. Lo and behold: there was no support person involved. Instead I got a message that I could renew the domain for a year for $10!! All I had to do was enter a promo code at check-out, and indeed, the domain is renewed for a year, for $10. Instead of $37.50.

So that is an even bigger saving than last year.

The man who knew too little

Yesterday I saw this film (movie) on Amazon Prime.

I was in the mood for something fun and decided on this one. Bill Murray usually is good for laughs and this film didn’t disappoint me. The start was a bit overdone perhaps but things got better so quickly that I laughed a LOT!

It is clearly an older film, seeing working phone boxes and a total absence of smartphones and even Nokia 3310s. Add to that the big spool tape-recorders and you probably get the pictures. Younger people might not even recognise a lot of stuff in the film.

Yes, I enjoyed this film very much.