Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shelving Things.

Sometimes you just have to shelve things, and I'm not talking about library stuff. You just have to put things aside to let them be until later because the amount of time, resources, and aggravation you've pumped into them are not producing satisfying results. I think music recording is going to have to be one of those things. I spent the better part of two weeks trying to figure out how to get various pieces of hardware to work well together, and the moment I got it all right? POOF! My computer died. And I'm not sure whether it had anything to do with what I was plugging into it or not.

I've been experimenting with the two remaining computers (a laptop and a netbook), but neither seems to be able to play well with the mixing board. No amount of tweaking will make the recording input loud enough in comparison to the ambient electronic noise to be of value. Once you get to that point, any recording input of significant volume sounds like garbage. And post-processing noise removal tools are just bleh. The high-end sound card I plugged into my PC is what made all the difference in the world before the thing went and fried itself...and I don't think the cards integrated into these laptops are up to par.

My options at this point seem to be:
a) Record fuzzy, grainy audio on the laptops that is no better in quality than that I was doing with my gaming mic before.
b) Buy a new PC and start over.
c) Build a trebuchet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Death of a PC

Whelp...a power supply malfunction, a static spark, some vile feedback, or witchcraft has officially killed my PC after three years. The big fancy desktop computer which I've invested so much time and frustration in upgrading, troubleshooting, and keeping up-to-date has died in a fire. This brings a dramatic halt to my imaginary internet spaceship captaining, minecrafting, recording, and browsing as I know it.

And do you know how I feel? Not angry, sad, or frustrated. On the contrary, as soon as I knew the thing was a lost cause and verified that I can record decently enough on my netbook, I couldn't wait to dismantle the entire computer desk along with all of its peripheries and accoutrement and throw it all into a dark corner of the attic.

I don't really like the kind of person the computer made me into. Kerry would probably say that it offers an entirely too easy positive reinforcement mechanism for little to no accomplishment. And I buy that. The way I would put it is that the machine--or at least my use of it--has adversely affected my character.

EVE is probably the most glaring example of computing gone bad. A continuous cycle through the same missions...blowing up other people's spaceships and getting blown up in return over and over...managing spreadsheets...making ISK...losing ISK...playing with ship fittings...surfing the forums. All of this in the service of an imaginary world where most of the players are asshats. The only  part of it I reliably enjoy is the roleplaying community which--let's be honest--could have the same amount of fun without the game as a mediator for our interactions.

Next up, browsing. Reddit. Cracked. Reuters. What-have-you. Consuming funny material has become important to me. And when that is lacking, merely interesting material will do. And when that is lacking, I'll even look at American news networks. *shudders* But all of it is random. The vast majority of it is stuff I'll read with morning coffee and forget about by lunch time. It'll leave me with that nagging feeling that there was something I wanted to tell so-and-so if I could just remember what it was.

Social networking--and yes, I'm looking at you, facebook, is also something I'm not happy with. When I compare how much time I spend spouting clever one-liners for a nameless, faceless mob of acquaintances to how much time I spend actually talking to my family and friends, I do not like the implications.

Having a badass computer that can do anything I want has basically been turning me into a stationary, adventure-averse, disconnected, and increasingly apathetic person since I was fifteen. I've paid money for hardware and software that have made me a less son, brother, friend, and husband for long enough.

I am not going to get another PC. I am going to make this netbook work for all my computing needs. I am going to enjoy the pile of beanbags and pillows I've set up where the unsightly computer desk was this morning. There are other things to do, and I want to do them, so I am going to.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Mixing Board!

A fellow library student listened to the music I recently posted to Youtube and apparently it helped him get through a rough patch.  He was trying to get some digital assets ingested into Greenstone on some particularly nasty servers, and some banjo hilarity helped him get through the night. He has kindly put his Eurorack soundboard at my disposal along with a trio of very fancy microphones.

I've spent a good deal of the past few days trying to get the setup to work. I tried it on Windows 7 and Vista computers. I even dragged my old computer out of the attic and tried to get it to work in Ubuntu  and XP. After a trip to Best Buy, though, and the procurement of a new sound card and some assorted wirey bits, I finally cracked it this evening.

To experiment, I wanted to do something fun, short, and vocally (since getting multiple instruments to sync up right seems trickier). I'd like to think that I'm getting a little better at this. Behold!