Simply brilliant

Sometimes, it’s the easy things that explain the complex ones. Take, for example, this


I want to hear the argument that the well balanced breakfast has the rights. I want to understand how ANYONE would believe that. They won’t, and yet switch that with “Well Regulated Militia” and suddenly bacon has more rights than you.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/19/2014 3:56:35 PM | Feedback (9)
For now, it appears the Spammers are winning

For the past week or so, a new spamming system must have popped up because I’m getting inundated with crap emails. This time, though, the new system has enough variance in it to evade most of my traps.

The urls they try to link to are random enough. I’ve not been able to spot the same links anywhere. Same with the included images. They come from domains like or / co / ru / etc.

The text is closer & closer to English. They all start with something along the lines of “If you cannot read this advertisement” but there are so many variations I can’t block them. For example “Can’t spot the Ad in this?”, “If you can’t load our Adver-tisement”, or “If your display can’t examine our coupon”.

Even the source code of the email is random & I’m not able to find a common chunk of HTML against which I can say “Aha! This is spam!”

I get them in blocks, and the IP’s the come from are all over the world. Spamhaus, SpamRats, & SpamCop aren’t catching them (I assume this is some sort of virus that spreads fast).

I really need to get Spam Assassin up & running with hMailServer, or something similar.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/19/2014 12:54:50 PM | Feedback (4)
Interesting design for a pocket pistol

The CURVE from Taurus.

Being that there’s not much you can innovate with the actual functioning parts of a firearm, changing the outer shape for something that’s meant to be concealed makes a lot of sense. When I carry my P3AT (the P333AT is in the shop again), I usually have it in a pocket and to anyone who cares to pay attention, you can tell what it is, holster & all.

The idea of the curves means less printing, but I bet it also has less snagging.

An interesting concept, I’ll have to keep my eye out for stories about it.

What are your thoughts?

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/18/2014 9:35:42 AM | Feedback (1)
More anecdotes to add to the list

I firmly believe that parents who take the time to be part of their children’s education end up with children who succeed. A few years ago I wrote about how, when I showed up for my daughter’s award ceremony where she won student of the year for the 2nd time, every kid who got an award had a parent in the audience. Today, this was reinforced for the third time.

I showed up to do Career Day for my two girls. Unfortunately, there was a scheduling conflict and they didn’t have any slots for me. Why? Because both my girls are in the advanced classes and the advance classes’ parents all showed up. There was no room for me.

When you take an active interest in your children, their chances of success go sky high.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/14/2014 9:52:46 AM | Feedback (3)
And the award for Dumbest Antigun Person on the planet goes to

This chick

Had I not seen a bajillion gunnies arguing with her constantly on Twitter, I’d say this was a joke. Hell, I’m still not convinced she’s not having a good laugh at us, because this is as dumb as it gets. Joe Biden read this and just shook his head (as much as his safety helmet let him).

If it’s parody, it’s amazing because it’s something these people tend to think. Their normal positions are just as laughable, but usually not so transparent.

I almost hope this is a joke, because if that’s a real person making a real statement, then maybe Gruber was onto something about the stupidity of the average American.

Update – according to the person in question, she was being sarcastic as the image came from a parody of the VPC. She may have not known that at first and ran with it thinking it was real and is just trying to cover her butt but even I have a hard time believing an anti could be that stupid, so I’m just going to take her word that she was kidding.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/13/2014 8:56:45 AM | Feedback (12)
Dots. They are connected.

Music theory has been something I’ve been teaching myself as much as I can when I can. I want to compose music, and understanding how it all fits together, while not required, makes things a bit easier than just hitting a bunch of notes and hoping for the best.

I’ve been focusing on chords a bit because I enjoy chord-first writing even though it does cause my melodies to wander a bit, if I ever get to them. I’ve been trying to ‘teach’ my ear to hear the basic triads – Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, & Suspended – and understand the difference between a strong progression and a fragile one, so that I can create better chord sequences.

Over the course of reading the basics behind the scales, I also wandered over to the Dominant 7th. I always know it as “Tonic, Maj 3rd, Perfect 5th, and a half step below the tonic” but I never understood why they called it the dominant 7th. Then I figured it out.

I was trying to build dominant 7ths on the fly. You add a flatted 7th of whatever scale you’re on & bam – dominant 7th. For example, in the key of G you have G A B C D E F# G, so G-B-D-F is your G7 chord. Which made little sense to me. Why call it a dominant 7th when you have to flat the 7th note?

Then I realized, G is the dominant (5th) note of C. If you stick with the notes in C and use the Mixolydian (GABCDEF) the 7th note is your F.


I also realized the dominant 7th was the diminished chord with the 5th as the root.

Music is pretty much just math you listen to. When you suddenly realize the formulas, it’s amazing.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/10/2014 5:00:00 AM | Feedback (7)
Perfection Seeks Flaws

Just got through reading a pretty good article about ‘warmth’ in audio recordings and what it means.

Basically, circuits are noisy, don’t give you the exact output you expect, and we’ve had to deal with it for so long that we’ve become accustomed to it and consider it a sign of good sound. This line stuck out at me

I wonder if in a parallel universe digital had preceded analog (somehow) would we be writing of ways to reduce warmth in our gear? If over decades of listening to clean digital recordings would we shudder at the sound of THD?

THD is Total Harmonic Distortion, or the way the circuitry bobbles the sound along the way, adding harmonics.

100% digital recordings have often been called ‘cold’, often by people who couldn’t tell the difference between an ice cube and a red hot charcoal briquette, but I digress. A computer is also subject to noise, but as long as it stays within range, a 0.00000001 will still be a 0 and a .99999999 will still be a 1. Thus a computer will output the exact same sound over & over with the only distortion being added by the final output chain of analog equipment (the DAC, soldered connections, plug, wires, circuitry in the speakers, etc.)

When sound engineers first started out, they couldn’t capture the same sound they heard because the primitive equipment added so much noise & distortion. Just listen to any early recording & you’ll hear the hiss, crackle, and the tinny sound.

Over the years, engineers fought & fought these limitations, constantly improving their equipment to eventually get rid of more & more THD. This ‘warmth’ we so crave in our current sound was garbage to the early pioneers who were trying to get rid of it! Well, to a point – at some point, that distortion became a particular ‘sound’ someone liked and started using to their advantage.  Wasn’t too long ago that to get a really distorted sound, you’d have to cut the speaker cone.

I have a bunch of audio software that emulates old systems. You can control the voltage going into the amp, the angle, distance and type of the microphone from the cabinet (even placing them behind!), the size of capacitors, etc. for Guitar Rig Pro from Native Instruments. They also have a Moog emulator called Monark that, upon starting, takes a bit before it’s in tune and will ‘drift’ as you play it.

Often the unpredictability was what gave these instruments their distinctive sound & why old models are often prized. Digitally, it’s technically feasible to simulate every last bit of them, but even me, Mr. “I can do everything I need In The Box (ITB)” understands that sometimes, it’s just easier & more expressive to turn a dial or push a slider and just get whatever the instrument hands me.

Oh, this isn’t strictly related to audio. When I did 3D modeling, the first thing you learned that anything perfect looked fake. You had to add scratches, dents, dirt, or any number of imperfections to make something look realistic.

Just an interesting article that piqued my interest.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/5/2014 7:57:21 PM | Feedback (8)