Category Archives: Toys


I’m not a big phone fan – I don’t like to call people, and not a lot of people call me (email and IM mostly serve that function). Still, the phone is a necessity in today’s world, so there’s no escaping it. And like it or not, most of us have a home phone, a work phone and a cell phone, and all of these have voicemail to manage. With all that, and the few calls I get and make, I still get annoyed by some of the limitations I’m faced with in managing these. Enter GrandCentral.

One thing to note, first, however: I got my invitation to the closed beta yesterday, so I’ve had my account less than a day. And while I’ve spent a good deal of time poking around the interface, recording greetings, uploading my contact list, etc, not too many people have the new number yet, so I won’t be claiming it changed my life just yet. The potential is definitely there, though. Read about my initial impressions after the jump.
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The Live Rig Expands

The Novation X-Station 25With reverential’s reduction in size, I’m going to be doing more on stage, and that means I need to be more versatile. There are an amazing number of great-quality, free VST plugins available out there, as well as hosts, and I’ve been looking to add a computer to my setup to run these for a while now. Those of you who know me know that computing power is not a problem; the problem is the connection between my keyboards and a computer: MIDI, and that all-important factor, the audio interface. Well, that problem got rather neatly solved in the form of the Novation X-Station 25 (click here for a bigger image). This is not only an amazing piece of gear, but provided the solutions to several problems or gaps I had in my rig. In addition to a nifty little synth on-board, the X-Station provides, via USB, a MIDI interface and a bi-directional audio interface, as well as a fully-programmable MIDI control surface and 2 channels of audio processing for external gear, complete with effects. This is a beautifully-designed, well-constructed instrument, and it works flawlessly in every regard.

The downside of now owning something that unlocks the VST plugin world for me is that it’s going to take years to play with everything out there long enough to know if it’s going to be useful to me live, then get the sounds programmed/tweaked, and then program the X-Station’s control surface to control it live. Not to mention learning the onboard synth. It’s a daunting task, but wow, is it ever *fun*. I haven’t been this excited about programming patches and MIDI and audio routing in years.

Once I get the new live rig assembled, I’ll be posting some pictures and descriptions (I hope to diagram out the MIDI routing and post that too, along with all the details of reverential’s stage setup). Stay tuned!

My First Award-Winning Photo!

At OSCON last month, I entered the annual HP photo contest with a few entries, one of which used a Make-inspired, door peephole fish-eye lens. Turns out, I won the contest! Now that I’m an award-winning photographer, I plan, er, to take more photographs! I won an HP Photosmart 475 photo printer, which I’m really happy with! Thanks, HP! And O’Reilly for another great conference!. You can see the winning photo on my Flickr photostream, here.

Fun with Bluetooth

This morning, I brought my car in for regular service, and decided to wait for it (I wouldn’t have had to, they would happily provide me with a loaner, but this was only going to be a couple of hours, and they have wired & wireless Internet access).  5 minutes before my service manager walked in to tell me my car was ready, I already knew: I happened to be looking at my phone and noticed it had connected to the car!  I’m not sure exactly where the service bays were from where I was, but I suspect it was the other side of the wall, and my car was close enough to establish contact with the phone when they started it to bring it around.  Nice.

Gravity 2, /dev/mug 0

/dev/mug shotAs someone once said, “it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop”. Today my favorite work mug, seen here – a nice big dark blue latte mug with “/dev/mug” (unix joke – go ask your sysadmin) emblazoned on the side – decided to give me a practical demonstration of the hazards of gravity (weak force, indeed…). The two dozen-or-so resulting pieces are now sitting at the bottom of a trash bin. Annoying, yes, but not half as much as realizing that I’ve only had this one a month and a half, after purchasing it to replace the one that gravity claimed shortly before that, which I had successfully kept from gravity’s cruel clutches for four years!

I don’t think I’m getting more clumsy, so I can only conclude that gravity is either getting stronger, sneakier, more malevolent, or all three. Watch your mugs!

As tempting as it is to simply order another for round three (annoying and massively unfair that these rounds only seem to end when gravity wins), I’m not going to. At least not right away: if a lesser mug suffers the same fate, it might as well be getting ones I like…