Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window.

New toy du jour is Skype VoIP. Most previous experiences I had with consumer-grade VoIP have had been drenched in echo and latency (as opposed to some of the VoIP trader and back office voice installations I've helped put in, the perceived quality on those is better or at least equal to POTS voice). The thought of getting some of my old cronies together for a chat appeals to me (despite my inherent dislike of conference calls), and maybe it'll encourage us to keep the lines of communication open more. The price of Skype for in-network voice and chats is certainly right, and connecting to POTS isn't bad at all. I rather like the stealth feature for lurking (er, privacy), which is something I wish our all-too ubiquitous chat software at work has (that's basically got three settings, Don't Bother Me, Over The Hills And Far Away, and Drive Me Crazy).

Interesting CNN story yesterday about physical education in schools, a bit of a historic sore subject with me. Woody Allen absolutely nailed it when he said "Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym". What a waste of tax dollars for these programs. Throw a basketball out, and let the strongest survive. Sounds like the old joke about Don King's new sports promotion, "Whuppin' Ass" (invite several thousand dazzling urbanites to a coliseum, promising a title championship boxing match; lock doors; inform audience there will be no match that evening; take bets outside coliseum on number of survivors). Problem of course with PE back in my day was that I was interested in only two sports (baseball and golf, neither of which were the school's strong points) and that I was thoroughly uninterested in participating in gym class football scrimmages (I got clobbered in one in tenth grade) nor basketball (there were many experienced, aggressive players who took sadistic pleasure in slamming you to the floor for the sin of not inbounding the ball fast enough). Three quarters of kids can barely add and subtract, and schools waste money on this nonsense?

I was giving some thought to a very minor problem I mentioned back in the summer, that of how to get "Baba O'Riley" into my band's set list. I've got a good MIDI file for the synth part, but I'm loath to take a laptop to rehearsals and the gig (not to mention dealing with the grief if something happens, as invariably it will with my luck). A quick perusal of the web reminded me that there are still hardware sequencers to be found out there, and that that they even read PC formatted disks (to give you an idea how ancient these things are, they specify the format as PC-AT). The "Baba O'Riley" sequence is all of 78K, so it'll easily fit on a single floppy. Only question is whether to go for a sequencer with a built-in sound module, pick up a used sound module (one of old Roland JV series would do nicely, but as long as it's General MIDI, it's fine), or plug it into the MIDI inputs of our keyboard player's new toy. For some reason I doubt Option 3 will work, as I don't know if he knows how to leave the sequence running and get the piano and violin sounds over it....


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