Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Capture Streaming Audio With Audacity

Nice. I use Audacity all the time for minor audio edits and as a scratch pad for recording guitar parts. I'd read some time back that you could use it to capture streaming audio--basically if it plays through your PC you can capture it. I tried it with the two Rodrigo y Gabriela acoustic guitar pieces that they have posted and it worked great!

From the Audacity Help FAQ:
Windows and Linux

With most Windows and Linux audio devices, it is possible to record whatever sound the computer is currently playing, including internet radio streams.

In the drop-down menu on Audacity's mixer toolbar, choose “Wave Out” or “Stereo Mix” as the input source. (The exact name may be different, depending on your computer's sound drivers.) When you press the Record button, Audacity will capture whatever sound is playing on your computer's speakers.

If this doesn't work on your computer, you can instead use a cable to connect your computer's “Line Out” (speaker) port to its “Line In” port, and use Audacity to record from Line In.
In Windows 2000, I set the Audacity Mixer to record from Wave/DirectSound and adjusted the Wave volume in the Play Control to give me a nice hot signal without clipping.

Nice, quick and easy! I can see this being quite useful in a number of situations.

Monday, February 27, 2006

More Video Transcoding With MediaCoder

This thing is so cool, it deserves it's own post!

MediaCoder is a free universal audio/video batch transcoder, putting together lots of excellent audio/video codecs and tools from the open source community into an all-in-one solution, capable of transcoding among different audio/video formats with many extra features.
Sounds like it does the same thing as SUPER. Yes, but you get much more fine-grained control with MediaCoder if you want it, and it appears to me that MediaCoder is faster. I just happened upon this when I was looking at Digg. What a happy coincidence! I was trying to put an AVI video clip on SVCD with SUPER. The original was 480x320. SUPER put in black bars at the top & bottom and squashed the video in between. No matter what I did, it came out the same. With MediaCoder I was able to tweak some of the settings and get it working just right for SVCD to display nicely on my TV. Fast and flexible encoding, but not for the faint of heart.

In another test run, MediaCenter did not fair so well when trying to make DVD compliant VOB files. The sound was a wreck. SUPER works great in that area. MediaCenter is still a work in progress but it's already doing pretty cool things for me. Go opensource!

Both of these tools are a must for A/V work in Windows, IMO.

PS *NIX users, the MediaCoder homepage indicates this application will run in WINE. Haven't verified but if it does, it's a nice frontend bundled with a lot of the A/V tools that you would normally run via commandline.



Update: MediaCoder does not seem to like MP4 to SVCD MPG conversion. The sound comes out horribly. It likes AVI though...

Tags:

Saturday, February 25, 2006

From Google Video To SVCD & DVD

Most of the time viewing Google or YouTube video on-line on your computer is enough. For those times when it would be more fun to watch them the old fashioned way on the television, there is hope. This brief article will present some ideas for moving on-line video to DVD or SVCD using freeware & opensource software on Windows 2000 & Ubuntu Linux. This is not a comprehensive How-To, instead it will present details on how I accomplished my recent media-shifting quests using the software available to me.

Software Used

Windows 2000
SUPER Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer
Description: This freeware windows application can convert just about any AV formats!

FLV Player 1.3.2
Description: A freeware FLV player by Martijn de Visser

Nero Express 6
Description: A CD/DVD writing application bundled with my DVD±RW drive. Burns VCD & SVCD discs but won't do Video DVDs.

FireFox 1.5
Description: Opensource web browser

Greasemonkey
Description: A powerful extension for the FireFox browser.

Greasemonkey Scripts
Description: "Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension which lets you to add bits of DHTML ("user scripts") to any web page to change its behavior. In much the same way that user CSS lets you take control of a web page's style, user scripts let you easily control any aspect of a web page's design or interaction." --mozdev.org

The particular scripts we're interested in are described at Greasemonkeying with Google Video and YouTube. They are:
Get them and install them! :-)

Ubuntu Linux
dvdauthor
Description: An opensource command line utility for preparing a video DVD

K3b
Description: A very useful opensource CD/DVD writing application.

Saving Google & YouTube Video Locally
You can save Google Video locally in three (or four?) different flavors:
  • GVP (some kind of Google format that isn't useful for our purposes here)
  • FLV (Flash)
  • MP4 for Video iPod or Sony PSP
  • AVI? I thought you had an an option to save the files as AVI at one time but I guess it's gone or limited to only certain videos? Well, I cannot find it if it's available or not at any rate.
Saving Google Video in FLV format:
  1. With the Google Video Getter Greasemonkey script installed in FireFox, find the video you would like to save locally.
  2. Click on the Download Flash Video link (blue background, white font) in the upper-right of your window near the title of the video.
  3. Select Save To Disk
  4. Click OK
  5. The video filename doesn't need to be changed, but you can if you wish. Just remember to leave the .flv extension at the end.

Saving Google Video in MP4 format:
  1. Find the video you want
  2. In the Download for dropdown field, select Sony PSP
  3. Click the Download button
  4. Select Save To Disk
  5. Click OK
  6. You can change the filename but leave the .mp4 extension.
Note: I am guessing that the Sony PSP MP4 option is higher quality than the iPod version but I have not checked. It does appear that it is better quality or at least converts better then the FLV version.

Saving YouTube Video Locally
  1. With the YouTube to me Greasemonkey script installed in FireFox, find the video you would like to save locally.
  2. Right-Click the "Save As" to download Flash video link at the top of the page (red background, white font)
  3. Select Save Link As in the menu that opens
  4. In the Filename field, enter a descriptive filename of your choice in place of “get_video.php”. Save it with the .flv extension. For example, change the filename from get_video.php to bball.flv
  5. Click Save
Viewing FLV files
If you have FLV Player installed, you can double click on the YouTube FLV video you just saved and it should open and start playing the video for you.

Converting The Video Files To SVCD Or DVD

This is where the Windows application SUPER (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer) really shines. This thing is so simple to use and it seems to be able to handle anything. I don't know of any other free converters for FLV files, but this one does it. It's pretty self-explanatory but here's a couple of examples:

SVCD
I am going to convert two really cool videos to put them on SVCD for this demo, an MP4 from Google & an FLV from YouTube:

Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer
(Click image to view settings)

SVCD Conversion
  1. In Windows, open SUPER
  2. In the Select the Output Container choose mpg SVCD Compliant
  3. If you have DirectX installed place a check in the Use DirectShow checkbox (Faster. Better?)
  4. In the VIDEO section choose:
    • 480x480 for NTSC (US TV)
    • 480x576 for PAL (Rest of the world)
  5. Leave all the other options as they default
  6. Drag & Drop the MP4 file into the SUPER window
  7. Click Encode now
  8. If it finished almost immediately, and the line An ERROR has occurred. Click to read info.. has gone from gray to red, try taking the check mark out of Use DirectShow at the top in the internal encoders section.
  9. Put a check mark in the box by the filename you are attempting to convert and click Encode now. NOW PROCESSING FILE 1/1 should appear along with a progress meter. Of course the encoding process speed is dependent upon your PC specs.
When the processing is completed I find a file of the same name as my MP4 but it has the .mpg extension at the end. I follow the same procedure above to convert the FLV file for use on SVCD. The MP4 came out better then the FLV but they were of differing quality to begin with. Now I am ready to put them on CD as a Super Video Compact Disc (SVCD). Since I am in Windows using SUPER I will use Nero for the CD writing. If I were in Ubuntu Linux (as I will need to be for the DVD section) I would use K3b. Both are quite straight-forward in their respective procedures and you probably won't have any difficulties with either.

Writing The SVCD
  1. In Windows, open Nero Express
  2. Choose Video/Pictures --> Super Video CD
  3. Drag & Drop the .mpg files into the the Nero Window in the order you want them to play
  4. Click Next
  5. Enter the Disc Name (i.e. TEST_SVCD)
  6. Select your Writing Speed & Number of Copies
  7. Click Burn
Note: There is an Enable SVCD Menu option in Nero but it's gray out in my version for some reason. It worked before. Maybe it “timed out” or some such nonsense... I don't recall such an option in K3b.

DVD
Making a DVD was a little more involved. I had a lengthy bit of concert footage from Google Video downloaded in FLV, MP4, and AVI formats—the MP4 converted nicely to SVCD compliant mpeg format. The quality was excellent but unfortunately it was too much for one CD, coming in at over 1GB! (Interestingly enough, neither the AVI nor the FLV contained the whole concert. Only viewing the video online or via the MP4 download did I get the whole thing.) At any rate, I wanted it all on one disc. It would have to be DVD. Unfortunately for me, getting that done was a real battle. It was a long night of Googling and experimenting before I got it working properly. Fortunately though, once you know the process, it's quite easy... so enjoy!

This is where we bring our friend Ubuntu Linux into the picture. The bundled version of Nero Express 6 won't even write Video DVDs. I'm sure they want you to buy the "real" version for such things--which in hindsight probably would have saved me a ton of aggravation last night, but that is for another time. For now I will simply outline the procedure that worked for me. So here we go...

DVD Conversion
We are going to prepare a DVD compliant VOB file from a Google MP4 with the Windows SUPER application. Next, we will boot into Ubuntu Linux, add the necessary applications, use dvdauthor to prepare the the DVD files for burning, and write the video DVD with K3b. The first part of the process is similar to converting MP4 for SVCD as you will see:
  1. In Windows, open SUPER
  2. In the Select the Output Container choose vob DVD Compliant
  3. If you have DirectX installed place a check in the Use DirectShow checkbox (Faster. Better?)
  4. In the VIDEO section choose
    • 720x480 for NTSC (US TV). Aspect 4:3 (Standard TV ratio)
    • 720x576 for PAL (Rest of the world) Note: Your guess is as good as mine on choosing the Video Scale Size & Aspect Ratio for PAL.
  5. Leave all the other options as they default
  6. Drag & Drop the MP4 file into the SUPER window
  7. Click Encode now
  8. If it finished almost immediately, and the line An ERROR has occurred. Click to read info.. has gone from gray to red, try taking the check mark out of Use DirectShow at the top in the internal encoders section.
  9. Put a check mark in the box by the filename you are attempting to convert and click Encode now. NOW PROCESSING FILE 1/1 should appear along with a progress meter. Once again, the encoding process speed is dependent upon your PC specs.
DVD Authoring
This is where I had all my fun. You can't simply write the VOB file to DVD and expect it to work in your stand-alone DVD player. You have to have IFO files, one in particular is quite important, the VIDEO_TS.IFO file. So where do we get these files? We will generate them, and the DVD TOC with the almost totally undocumented but otherwise very useful dvdauthor Linux command line utility. First, we should add some needed applications to our Ubuntu system. With Synaptic & a broadband connection you will be ready to roll your own Video DVD in no time:

Expand Your Ubuntu Application Universe
  1. In Ubuntu, open Synaptic (System --> Administration --> Synaptic Package Manager)
  2. Update your repositories. (Synaptic Package Manager --> Settings --> Repositories)
  3. Click ADD
  4. Place Check Marks in Community Maintained (Universe) and Non-Free (Multiverse)
  5. Do the same for Updates & Security Updates

Install Needed Applications
  1. Click Reload to make sure you are all up to date
  2. Use the Search function to find & install the following (and their dependencies):
    dvdauthor
    k3b

    You might as well add these also, you may need them (among others) at some point:
    qdvdauthor
    mplayer
    mencoder
    ffmpeg
Prepare The Video DVD Files
Note: I will try to explain this as simply as possible as this is the part that gave me such a headache. The commands are shown in Monospace/Courier Font. All of the dots & slashes are important, as is where & when you execute them!
  1. Open a shell (Applications --> Accessories --> Terminal)
  2. Create a working directory (i.e. movie)
    mkdir /home/your_username/movie
  3. Copy or Move your VOB file(s) (i.e. concert.VOB) into the working directory
  4. cd /path/to/your/working/directory
    (i.e. cd /home/your_username/movie)
  5. dvdauthor -o ./ -T
    This will generate the Table of Contents (which is basically two new directories under your working directory called AUDIO_TS & VIDEO_TS and it will also give you an ERR message which you can safely ignore.)
  6. mv *.VOB ./VIDEO_TS
  7. dvdauthor -v ntsc+720x480+4:3 -o ./ ./VIDEO_TS/concert.VOB
    If you have more then one VOB file (i.e. concert1.VOB, concert2.VOB, etc.) simply list them all in order in the command above like this (all one line):
    dvdauthor -v ntsc+720x480+4:3 -o ./ ./VIDEO_TS/concert1.VOB ./VIDEO_TS/concert2.VOB
  8. dvdauthor -o ./ -T
  9. Move the original file out of the DVD folders with this command:
    mv ./VIDEO_TS/concert.VOB ./
Writing the Video DVD
  1. In Ubuntu, open K3b (Applications --> Sound & Video --> K3b)
  2. Select File --> New Project --> New Video DVD Project
  3. Use the navigation pane in the top portion of K3b to go to your working directory
  4. Select, Drag & Drop the AUDIO_TS & VIDEO_TS directories from the upper-left pane of the K3b window and drop those folders into the bottom-left pane.
  5. Press CTRL+B or select Project --> Burn
  6. Modify settings as needed and click Burn
K3b writing a Video DVD
(Click on image for a full view)

Well, that's it for now. Hopefully this helps someone along their way. I'm sure there are a lot of different, easier or slicker ways of doing the same thing. This should get you going if all you want is to move some A/V from your PC to your TV fairly painlessly.

Useful Links & Apps:

Tags:

Updated 18 March 2006: Added links to MediaCoder & Google Video to AVI information.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

GNX2: Amp & Cabinet Modeling

Wow, this is cool. I really didn't pay any attention to this feature for a long time. So tonight, for the first time, I tried the Warp feature on my GNX2. You pick two amps and two cabinets you want to blend, and then use the Warp function to mesh them together in varying degrees to create entirely new tones--a new 'HyperModel' as they call it. It's really quite interesting. You're basically creating tonal models of amps & cabinets that don't even exist. I'm amazed at what this thing can do. Yeah, some things it doesn't do so very well, but other things are quite revolutionary (in my little world anyway). I can't imagine what you can do with their latest offering, the GNX3000! That thing must be incredible! I'm almost afraid to try it, I'd be sure to walk out the door with it, and at this point I don't think my wallet would appreciate that...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Out With Oil, In With Nuclear?

This is an interesting coincidence. A few days after Kenneth Deffeyes' post that world oil production has peaked, President Bush calls for the construction of new nuclear power plants in his Feb. 18th radio address. Noting that we haven't had an order for a new plant since the 1970's, and that only about 20% of US electricity is derived from nuclear power--it appears that we have fallen way behind the curve here when we should have been on the leading edge. The President points out that, for example, France has 58 plants supplying that country with 78% of their electricity needs. The contrast and implications will be quite revealing as oil production begins to decline at the same time demand continues to increase: France, it seems will be much better off in that situation then we will in terms of basic energy needs.

I'm not sure how serious his intentions are on this matter however. Earmarking a paltry $250 million for such an important endeavor won't even get you out the door.

Finally, here are a few comments I left on the 17th in the Slashdot discussion on peak oil from the other day:
[museumpeace (735109) wrote:] I suppose I shouldn't gripe at what a bunch of retards my courtymen have been on energy conservation issues...it could be worse: yet another article on oil depletion could have been ignored.

Ok, given that this problem has been understood prior to the Slashdot post: how is conservation the answer? Alone, it is nothing but a delay tactic for the inevitable. The last twenty or so years should have been employed in a massive effort in developing alternative energy sources. Conservation + innovation + implementation...

It's basically too late now for that. There's no way we're going to convert trillion dollar economies to new energy sources in time to stave off the severely painful effects & shortages (not just energy shortages either!) that diminishing oil production will cause.

No flame here, just pointing out to everyone who's brought up conservation alone that it would have been part of the answer. Without a massive effort to move OFF of oil (well prior to hitting peak production) it isn't an answer at all really. Too bad everyone has been so against nuclear power plants in their proverbial back yards. They would've really come in quite handy in the next two decades...

I guess this is all quite moot at this point though. When supplies begin failing to meet demands and 'everyone' starts wondering why (and fuming that) their loaf of Wonder Bread costs $10, it's going to get really ugly...

"Sorry, all the oil is going to fuel to the war machine in the fight against terror. There's none left for domestic manufacturing & food production. Do your civic duty and quit whining about your hungry kids or we're going to send the local Reeducation Committee to your house..."

Not a very cheery prospect I'll admit, but I hope all the peak oil optimists are right and that we still have plenty of time to develop and move our massive economies to alternative energy sources. We have to try, even at this late date. How about we finish up (quickly) in Iraq now that they have a semblance of a government and divert those funds to the nuclear effort? Instead of $250 million, how about $250 billion?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Peak Oil Revisited

Slashdot had a big row going yesterday on the question Has World Oil Production Passed Its Peak? and I missed it?! (It was a really late post I guess...)

Kenneth S. Deffeyes surmised that we've gone over the peak of world oil production as of 16 December 2005 in his Current Events "Join us as we watch the crisis unfolding" February 11, 2006 page.

His outlook on the situation is pretty dim, and he ends his notes with, "That's it. I can now refer to the world oil peak in the past tense. My career as a prophet is over. I'm now an historian."

Greeeeeat....

I was sure hoping we would NOT hit peak oil production in my lifetime (selfish as that sounds). I certainly didn't expect it to occur a month after I first came to understand the implications!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

UPS Repair

I'm used to dealing with APC UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies). My main home UPS is a Belkin F6C120-UNV. It's served me well since I've had it but I have certainly taxed it's capacity battery-wise. The load usually runs about 50% or so. I don't know what made me think of it but I checked the monitor app today and noticed that the battery voltage was off, and worse, the battery level was at 0%!!! I thought it was the application, but when I felt the case it was hot. I knew something was wrong. The monitor app did not indicate the batteries needed replacing but I needed to check into this, so apart it came.

If you are familiar with APC hot-swap UPS systems you can see from this picture why this one is something of a pain to work with (comparatively).

The system board mounts above the batteries, you can see it in this image behind the UPS chassis. The batteries are enclosed in an L shaped bracket. No hot-swapping here, unless you want to die I guess.

Anyway, I removed the batteries and checked them. Sure enough, one of the them is virtually dead (running at about 4volts), the other is probably dying now too (it's at 11volts). Hopefully the charging system isn't fried from trying to juice up these batteries, I'm not electronically inclined enough to know really. I will just have to get some new batteries and find out. If it still runs blazingly hot with the new batteries (after initial charging is completed), I'm going to have to think that it's toast. Fortunately, I believe it's going to be ok, as I didn't see any fried electrical components and the fuses were not blown. (Here's real science for you) I also don't smell any of those nasty electrical burn smells that you usually get when the 'magic smoke' has been let out of electronics. I think it'll be OK....

Here's what it looks like with the batteries out of it. I am going to guess that when the batteries go out for most owners of this unit, they just toss them. Having had lots of fun over the years rebuilding printers, I'm not an electronics guru by any means, but I ain't scared to try fixing things. (Although that big transformer is kind of frightening in it's own right just looking at it!) I think I probably would have been less inclined if I had noticed any of those big capacitors sitting in there. I try to avoid things like that--and CRTs. Yeah... you will not catch me poking around in monitors. No thanks...



Update: I put new UB1280 (12V/8Ah) batteries in yesterday. Plugged it into AC and let the batteries charge up to 100%. Checked all the UPS outlets to make sure they were putting out the correct voltage and properly grounded. Then I started plugging things into it (which of course was really the most frightening part--I mean who really wants their AMD64 getting fried over a $150 power supply after all?). I ran a deep battery test and everything appears to be working just fine. Most telling is the fact (real science here again) that it's not running hot enough to cook an egg on it anymore! The case is now just a touch warmer then room temperature. 'Burn in' completed, looks like I am good to go for three or so more years...

***WARNING***
You could still get shocked & hurt or worse even with the AC power disconnected. Use whatever information you glean from this post at your own risk.


Updated 18 February 2006: Posted WARNING notice (don't get yourself killed over a $100 power supply!). Added update on the completed rebuild.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Guitar Chord Explorer

A recent find for me, but I think it's been around for a while. Looks quite useful, and it's free.


Description from the page:
A free online Java program/applet/tool which allows you to explore, search and build hundreds of guitar chords. Easy to use, with colour-coded displays. Features include a chord database/dictionary, a voicing builder, a powerful chord search engine, and more. Dual display -- fretboard and chord structure (intervals). Use any string tuning. Build unusual custom chords.
....
I've come across many websites with guitar chord programs, but I've never been totally satisfied with any of them. Some have terribly complicated controls, some produce confusing chord diagrams, and some even contain incorrect chord voicings. I wanted to create a program that's both powerful and very easy to use, while still making it free for all to share. GCE is the result. I don't pretend to think that it's perfect, but it provides several features which I personally find very useful when writing or tabbing songs, and I hope that others find it useful too.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Media Bias In The Olympics Coverage

I can't believe it. We didn't watch the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic games! I don't recall the last time we've missed it. Let's just say, (for myself) it had been an exhausting week, one of the boys wasn't feeling well--and we all just went to bed early without even thinking about I guess. It's a shame really...

A good friend of mine watched it last night and sent some his own commentary to me this morning. With his kind permission, I publish it here. The title of this post is his own, and the comments are unedited:
As the athletes from the United States entered the arena last night, during the parade of athletes, the crowd erupted in applause. The commentator (anchor for NBC nightly news) said something like "Unexpected applause for the United States" Unexpected applause? Applause for the Nation, that people are willing to risk their lives to enter and maybe, just maybe, find a home where they and their families can prosper. Unexpected applause for a nation who at a moments notice can give more money, food and medical aid than many countries have for their own citizens in the best of years. Unexpected applause for a nation that has proven time and again that we are ready, willing, and able to send our troops, our sailors, our airmen and marines, to rid a country of an aggressor. Unexpected applause for a nation that is willing to admit its mistakes and work to correct those mistakes. My travels years ago in Europe and Asia and Australia and even South Africa, I never encountered "Anti-Americanism" Even the French, once you butter them up a bit, with a few Pro-France compliments will admit that they are thankful for our bailing them out in WWII and for the support of modern day France. Throughout Europe the United States was respected and looked up to, the problem is 100's of Millions of Europeans going about their daily business, knowing in the back of their minds that they can sleep safely tonight, isn't news worthy. But, 1000 Green Party (Watermelon Party, Green on the outside and Red on the Inside) Communist holding a Molotov Cocktail Party, in the streets of Frankfurt, shouting Down the the United States, George Bush is a Terrorist, is news worthy. Islamofascist, Muslim, militant youth, like their Nazi predecessors rampaging the cities of France, shouting Death to American, Death to Israel is news worthy.

My father once told me, if you want to know if the press is free in the country your a visiting pickup the news paper, if it slams the leadership of the country, if it slams the military of the country, if it plays up the worst news, national disasters, homelessness, hunger and ignores the good news then you are in a free country. If the Press only portrays the best news, Stocks are up to record high levels, the Vice President invents the Internet. President plays golf and score record export deal with Prime Minister so and so then you are not in a Free Press Country. Oh wait that means that sometimes we are in a Free country and sometimes we are in a controlled country..... I am confused. --DLS 11 Feb. 2006

Moderate Voices

It is encouraging to see moderate majority Muslims begin to speak out against the outrageous reaction incited by extremists over the now infamous cartoons. To quote from an enlightening blog post I recently read:
What on earth are we thinking? Will we never learn?

Back in September 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons which depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist. But the reaction of the muslim world back then was one of 'Ignore it and it will go away'. But somewhere, someone has gotten hold of this and decided that this is a major issue.

There have been so many depictions of the prophet through the ages that to bring this up now is simply ridiculous...

But yet again, our reaction belies how far we have moved away from the roots of Islam where tolerance was given to all. Once again the name of ordinary muslims are being dragged through the mud because of a small bunch of zealots who cannot see the beyond their own noses. Screaming and shouting about 'art' which is offensive only pushes it into the public arena and gives it unwarranted publicity.
Certainly the cartoons are offensive to the Muslim people. The sad fact is, the violent reactions to these depictions that we see in the media only serve to reinforce stereotypes against Muslims, causing an ever greater rift between cultures. It is encouraging to see the moderate elements among this society stepping up in peaceful protest--not only against the offending images, but also against the violence that has been incited by the extremists in their community.

From another post on the same blog:
So we finally seem to have got our act together and 'mainstream' muslim organizations are protesting this Saturday at 1pm in Trafalgar Square. Not just against those darned cartoons, but also against the violence perpetrated by muslims during the last week's worth of protests.
I know of many occasions where peoples of various faiths at various times have been offended by mean-spirited depictions of their most cherished beliefs. Should you speak out against these things, certainly! Should you resort to violence in the name of your offended sensibilities, certainly NOT! Should you boycott an entire nation over grievances committed by only a very few? I would say that is a pretty extreme response in and of itself.

I'll say it again, NONE of us have the right to act like barbarians simply because our sensibilities are offended. What kind of world would we have if we all behaved in that manner? I don't think it would be a pleasant sight to behold. Do you?

Extremism by all appearances seems to be the order of the day in virtually all facets of life, but there are other voices speaking up now that reveal other courses of action--courses far more constructive in their nature. Enough of 'Us & Them' mentalities. Bring on the moderates!

Finally!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Support Denmark!

Support Freedom!


Because, you don't get to act like barbarians simply because your sensibilities are offended...

Orion Acoustic Cover

This is superb!

Mexican virtuoso acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela perform a cover of one of my favorite instrumentals, Orion. This cover is remarkably faithful to the original. Nice production, excellent arrangement, very impressive!

Check out their take on this classic:

Orion by Rodrigo y Gabriela

Pictured here is the cover of their latest self-titled release.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Floyd Tuning Tips

Here's a really good article by a local veteran luthier on working with Floyd Rose style locking tremolos:


Tuning up a guitar with a locking tremolo can be somewhat of a challenge. Unlike a fixed bridge, as you change the pitch of each string when tuning, it affects the tension of all the other strings (and of course their pitch as well). You basically have to tune up & repeat until you hit an equilibrium of sorts. I have followed the tuning method presented in the linked article above for years, and it works very well for me. Another page of useful instructions can be found on the Floyd Rose site itself.