Things, Dec 15 2016

in stream of consciousness order. Click the little doobliy-do to read.

On Tuesday, I came down to the lab to find that Windows 10 had decided to reboot. I had gotten no warning. It stopped a 4 day download (resumable thankfully). Also the 3D print that I had going was running from SD card so it wasn't ruined. But I decided I had had enough and I have moved my large storage off to a Synology box, so I don't need Win8/10 storage spaces anymore. I'm back on Windows 7. The problem is that I have the "Windows update takes forever" problem. I have tried everything I have found online to mitigate including downloading the large roll-up updates. All of them have either frozen for hours or said "this update does not apply to your operating system." So I'm leaving Windows Update running. So far it's said "Checking for updates" for about 16 hours nonstop (I had to reboot a few times).

I mean, I think Windows 10 is a perfectly good operating system. But two things: reboots that I can't stop and don't even get a warning of, and Cortana and the inability to turn it off (and the feeling that it's sending a LOT of data off to the cloud somewhere) makes me itch. I got Windows 10 for free. I'd be happy to pay money for a version of it without the cloud bullshit.

3D Printer
I've been thinking about a new 3D printer. The little Monoprice MP Select that I have is great, I'm happy with that, but it's little and only has one nozzle. The other one is bigger and has two nozzles, but it's a Makerbot clone, and turns out I hate Makerbot's entire way of printing. I don't know how they got to be popular. Marketing I guess. I can't believe that anyone who has ever used a RepRap printer ever then got a Makerbot and said "this is better."

I've been looking at a Delta - you can get a Rostock clone for $350 or so these days with two nozzles and a heated bed. I've never used a Delta before, building one would be fun, and they do look fascinating to watch. But OTOH they are all use Bowden tube extruders, which won't work with flexible filament. I hardly ever use flex filament, I suppose I could just keep the old CTC around for that, or I could go back to a Prusa i3 clone, which also are in the $350 range for dual extruder. But they're not as cool :)

Video camera
Earlier I had been editing some video from a funeral last weekend. I found that the camera had decided to focus on the Christmas tree behind the speaker so everything was blurry. For that and other reasons, I have ordered a Canon HF R72 as the replacement for my HF100, which I believe may have been the first in the Vixia line. The old camera also has a max bitrate of 18Mbps, and if there was water with waves, or blowing grass or something like that, it got badly bit-starved. The new camera does I think 28Mbps in AVCHD and 35 in MP4, or something like that. Anyway, mo' bits == mo' better. I spent the extra $100 for the wifi stuff, so that I can set up a tablet away from the camera and control zoom and focus and get a preview.

I was going to go with the Panasonic cam, but apparently they don't believe in microphone input jacks. I won't even consider a camera without one. Also the Panasonic apparently saves video ONLY in MP4 format, not AVCHD. That means you instantly take a quality hit when you load the video into an editor. MP4 is not a particularly good format to do non-linear editing on. It's great if you're uploading video straight from the camera to YouTube, but I'm not generally sharing cat videos. OK, I do post cat videos, but....

I need to get back to the church and hope that the program and memorial card I stashed by the sound board haven't been "cleaned up" - I want scans of them to go into the final video. I wish I could do blu-ray editions. DVD looks so bad in comparison, but I think hardly anyone has BD players.

The driveway is unfortunately in that horrible state where we have icy ruts that will be impossible to remove, and make it very hard to shovel snow when you keep hitting ruts with the shovel.

Lab cleanup
The lab/shop/cave/whatever is improving. I removed the TV and donated it. I removed the loveseat and took that to Goodwill. There's a lot of space now. I'm getting things organized a little at a time, mainly by the addition of many of the plastic boxes that I have standardized on. The projector and screen are still there. I'm going to move the computer desk from the bedroom (which is currently nothing but a junk collecting station) down and move the "work from home" monitors and such (and above computer) to there. The workbench is completely subverted by the monitors and keyboard now, leaving about a square foot to work in. Also this will put the PC right next to the stereo, so that I can run a line straight from the DAC into the stereo, and also HDMI from the computer into the projector.

I'm also on a campaign to slowly chip away at some of my many long neglected household chores. I'm trying an app that reminds me to do things like wipe out the bathroom sinks every week, etc. I was far behind as soon as I launched the app, but I'm doing a thing at a time. Last night I spent 1.5 hours on my knees with a bottle of rust stain remover working on 20 years buildup on the main shower. It's still not perfect but the remaining stains are not too obvious. I think a session with some CLR will fix what remains.

I think I need to try a few other apps though. This one doesn't do notifications, if I forget to run it daily it doesn't shove itself in my face, so some days the litter box doesn't get done, etc.

Music, Music, more Music
Tuesday the AACS choral group I am in did an informal quick carol sing at the "memory support unit" Christmas dinner at a retirement home in Saline. 2 weeks before that we had our holiday concert, which went pretty well. The recording was not bad but I will do things a bit differently next time. I've gotten another tall mic stand to facilitate that.

There was also a concert at the church last Saturday which Jenn and to a lesser extent I was involved in, to dedicate the new Yamaha keyboard they got this year. It was quite a nice concert. The pianist put a ton of work into it. The recording is very nice, I actually bought a couple of new microphones - Behringer cardioid dynamics, comparable to Shure SM58s. I am very surprised at how good they are, and that they come with foam lined plastic cases, a clip and a thread adapter (which I've been paying $4 for) for $20 each. It's the first time I've used all 6 tracks on the Zoom H6 recorder, and also the first time I've also pulled in a track from a separate recorder (hooked to the soundboard) to pull in vocals from a soloist which were not recorded very well from the area mics (the soloist was also behind the keyboard).

There's an FCB concert on Sunday, which is always a treat I look forward to. Especially this one, Big Band will be playing. I'm going to take the new camcorder along. I don't expect to use the video for anything, but it'll give me an outing with it to test microphone, video, touchscreen, etc. and maybe get used to it a bit. I have a shotgun mic that fits the old cam, but it's a custom hot shoe so that's a $150 microphone I'll probably never use again. I need to find out if I need to buy another microphone for that. I wish I could use the shotguns I have already, but they need phantom power. I could just decide to record the audio track on the H6 I guess, and maybe even stream through it to the mic in jack, but the H6 weighs as much as the camcorder.

I've actually been going back through the concerts I recorded with the camcorder and making audio-only versions, and usually just deleting the video. Nobody, or at least I, never watch concert videos, but I listen to them daily.