All posts by Paul

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. 🙂

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.