Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

January 10, 2013

Can I be a Mommy Blogger?

by bmiller445

I was just told “You really aren’t a good writer.” For second I thought about showing the person that told me this my earlier posts on this site, I am glad I read those again before I did. After hearing what may be considered fair but slightly worrisome criticism, as I work in Television and believe it or not we write that stuff, I went back and looked at what they were talking about I had to ask myself some questions. Was it horrible? No. Was it War and Peace? Is that a book? I’ve looked it up, yes it is. What was this whole thing about? Oh yeah, I’ve decided that I should write more, so I can go from somewhere better than horrible and closer to a book called War and Peace. (Not War and Piece as I Google searched it.) So here is the fun for everyone, I’ll post these musing to Facebook for my friends and family to tear up. You can read them and love them, and hate them, or love them, and then let me know what you think. This is a no holds barred invitation, this is not an invitation for a classy conversation. I must be broken before I can be rebuilt. If you are too nice to do this pretend that either A) Obama wrote it B)George Bush wrote it or C) joke payoffs usually go here. This will be a fun exercise so everyone join in and apparently there is some other stuff the guys write on this Blog that’s fun.

So this is the first one comment on my lack of punctuation, misspellings, poorly constructed sentences, and…list that go on too long without an ending. Nothing is off limits and I have the thickest skin you have seen.

July 29, 2012

Beyond the Infinite – A review of the Moog Guitar

by George

Infinite. ¬†The definition of this word is one we all know, but how can we possibly understand it. ¬†Nothing we’ve ever known or experienced in our lives has been never-ending. Until now…

Behold…the Moog Guitar. ¬†Moog? ¬†Guitar?

Known for their massively influential (and sometimes monolithic) synthesizers, Moog have been at the forefront of sonic exploration for decades. ¬†In addition to creating the most imitated and¬†desirable¬†monophonic synthesizer of all time, the Minimoog, one of Bob Moog’s greatest achievements was the creation of the Ladder Filter. ¬†You’ll see why this is important in a minute but for more info on what this nifty circuit does read this. ¬†Needless to say, when Moog announced plans for a guitar, many people were interested.

That was in 2008. ¬†Now, four years later, not much more is known about this elusive instrument and they’re rare (if not impossible) to find in most music shops. ¬†Most musicians I talk with aren’t even aware of it’s¬†existence, let alone know exactly how it’s capable of being used. ¬†With that, we begin our tour of this other-worldly instrument.

By appearance alone, there’s not much to indicate that this instrument possesses any magical powers beyond those of a standard electric guitar. ¬†A ‘super Strat’ style body dressed up nicely with a flamed maple top on a swamp ash body, the only thing that strikes you as odd are the cluster of knobs and switches that dominate the lower curve of the body. ¬†Two pickups, set neck construction, a Fender-style dive-only tremolo bridge, locking tuning machines and a clean, inlay-free (save the cryptic, circular logo at the 12th fret) rosewood fretboard…all features found on a number of guitars today. ¬†Then the paths diverge; where you would expect to find a standard 1/4″ output jack is an XLR output, a connection commonly found on microphones, not guitars. ¬†Curiouser and curiouser. ¬†Following this cable leads to a junction with an expression pedal and on the opposite side of the pedal is the 1/4″ output you were expecting. ¬†From here you feed out to the amplifier and things are starting to feel sane again. ¬†Plugged in, you turn the amp off of Standby.

At first listen, it sounds like a standard electric guitar.  The proprietary pickups are akin to a fat single coil, or perhaps a P-90.  Not the most powerful or clear pickups, but they hold a decent amount of harmonic content.  Running through the pickup selector yields some interesting tonal variations; neck, in phase, out of phase and bridge only.  The 5th position in the selector engages the piezo pickups housed in the bridge saddles; percussive, chimey and bright, the sound brings to mind an amplified acoustic guitar.  A control on the guitar allows for a continuous blend of the piezo and magnetic pickups letting you mix the clarity of the piezos with the warmth of the magnetic pickups.

But below the pickup selector is a second three-way switch. ¬†You didn’t really notice it yet because it’s function is coupled with the gold knob below the master volume knob and it’s turned down. ¬†Turn it all the way up and suddenly the guitar is crackling with electricity; it comes alive! ¬†The strings begin vibrating…on their own. ¬†The entire guitar is steadily vibrating but you haven’t even touched pick or fingers to string. ¬†What separates this guitar from a standard electric suddenly becomes clear even though you aren’t quite sure what is happening. ¬†Those proprietary pickups have the ability of controlling a magnetic field that envelops and dictates the amount and type or vibration of the strings. ¬†That gold knob controls the intensity of the magnetic field and the three-way controls the mode of control.

That first mode is Full Sustain, meaning that all six strings are being simultaneously driven by the magnetic fields and vibrate as if being played by some unseen force.  You hit a chord, it swells to an almost overbearing volume and the feeling is completely intoxicating.  As you hold the chord, it sustains and morphs, naturally, shifting overtones and harmonics.  This can be controlled with the expression pedal; heel to toe, the control moves from the bridge to neck pickup creating a pointed, aggressive harmonic crown that blends into a deep, airy and open halo centered around the notes being played.  Polyphonic sustain that is completely natural (i.e. the strings are physically being moved without end) and yet feels anything but.  Adjusting the amount of sustain allows for chords that have a volume pedal swell effect.   Using the tremolo bar to quickly dive before each chord change supplies enough vibration for amplification and the breath-like pulse from chord to chord leaves you baffled.  Techniques you had never even considered before allow you passage to harmonic destinations previously unknown.

The second position of the three-way is Controlled Sustain. ¬†Not only are these pickups powerful enough to physically move the strings, but they’re intelligent enough to simultaneously mute strings that aren’t being played. ¬†Infinite legato is literally at your fingertips and single-note runs take on a pedal steel feel, swelling into each note before growing to epic proportions only to dissolve gracefully once the next note is played and the cycle begins again. ¬†With a nice delay effect unit you can manifest sounds and progressions that bring to mind the majestic ballad of a migrating whale or a spacious, repeated message to the heavens…a cosmic psalm.

You slide the three-way to the final position and something is drastically different. ¬†All the power you held beneath your fingers is gone. ¬†Not only has your new found power of sustain vanished, but it’s been reversed. ¬†This is Mute Mode and it’s Biblical; where before the guitar giveth sustain it now taketh away. ¬†The same forces that kept the strings vibrating in the previous two modes now are used to stop any string played from vibrating for more than a few seconds. ¬†The sound…synthesizer? No. ¬†Mandolin? ¬†Not really. ¬†Banjo? Kinda. ¬†Sitar? ¬†Sure. ¬†More than the sound, the feeling is incredible. ¬†If you pay attention, you can feel the string vibration die, again, as if guided by a supernatural force. ¬†Finger-picked arpeggios and quick chord comping play to this mode’s strengths.

But that’s just half the story. ¬†Dial back the gold knob controlling the magnetic mayhem and there’s still that 3-pole switch. ¬†It’s been in the bottom position, where it functions like a regular tone knob on a guitar, the whole time but you flick it up to the middle. ¬†Even before you play you hear something like a hiss. ¬†Rocking the expression pedal and you hear this hiss build until it’s gone.

What you were hearing is the built-in Ladder Filter sweeping across it’s frequency range. ¬†Yes, the same low pass filter made famous in the synthesizers of the 70s is an integral part of this guitar. ¬†In this mode, the Articulated Filter mode, the envelope cutoff frequency of the filter is set by the position of the expression pedal and triggered by the on-board envelope. ¬†The filter envelope is directly proportional to the signal output of the guitar meaning that the harder you pick, the further the filter “opens”. ¬†The result is a low-pass, wah-like tonal accent that brings to mind the Mutron-inflected lead tones of Jerry Garcia or Frank Zappa.

The last postion of the 3-pole switch is a manual Ladder Filter mode where the expression pedal controls the sweep of the cutoff. ¬†It operates even more like a wah, but sounds like something far more futuristic and covers a much wider range of frequencies. ¬†Where a wah is a moving bandpass filter (meaning that it accents a set range of frequencies ‘up and down’ the spectrum) the low pass filter, at it’s heel setting, allows only low frequencies through. ¬†As you rock the pedal forward, more frequencies are allowed through until, at its fullest, the full spectrum of frequencies coming out of the guitar can be heard. ¬†It’s a sound that has much more sonic content to it and, as a result, feels much more alive and far less honky.

After all this, you don’t really know how to explain what just happened. ¬†Your mind accelerates as you create mental notes about what you now may be capable of…the promise of the unknown. ¬†You’re not sure what to do with this guitar but you’re thrilled by the possibilities.

August 25, 2011

My Review of Roku 2 XS Streaming Player

by daverj

Originally submitted at Roku

Adds an enhanced remote for playing games, plus extra connectivity options.

Great product, highly recommended!

By DaverJ from Knoxville, TN on 8/25/2011

 

4out of 5

Pros: Easy to set up, Compact, Low wattage, Easy to use, Great value, Netflix Adaptive Bitrate

Cons: No optical, Outputs full range video

Best Uses: Primary TV, Netflix

Describe Yourself: Home entertainment enthusiast, Netflix fan

Frustrated with my TiVo Premiere’s Netflix, I wanted a better option. So I hooked up the Roku 2 XS to my primary TV, mainly to get Netflix adaptive bitrate streaming. This is the newer way to stream Netflix to prevent re-buffering, which interrupts the movie or show if the internet temporarily slows down.

Easy to set up, and it works great. It does Netflix and Amazon rentals so much better than the TiVo!

I wish it had an optical out. The only way for the Roku box to get 5.1 surround from Netflix is via HDMI pass-through to an A/V receiver with Dolby Digital PLUS. My legacy receiver doesn’t have DD+, but I still wish the Roku 2 had optical for Amazon rentals and other sources.

Also, the Roku 2 is outputting only full-range video (0-255), which will look dark and loose lots of shadow details on many TVs, including mine. I wrote Roku about this, and they said there should be a software update soon the will detect if the TV can display full-range or limited range (16-235) and select the appropriate output. Until then, I have to crank up the brightness for the Roku 2’s input on my TV. Looking forward to this being fixed.

(legalese)

November 30, 2010

Camera Man’s Creed

by bmiller445

This is my camera. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My camera is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My camera, without me, is useless. Without my camera, I am useless. I must shoot my camera true. I will…

My camera and myself know that what counts in TV is not the amount of min. we shoot, or the camera we shoot with. We know that it is the shot that counts. We will get the shot…

My camera is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its lens. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and FedEx damage, I will white balance, check my audio, and We will NOT fix it in post. I will keep my camera clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before God, I swear this creed. My camera and myself are the shooters of cable TV. We are the entertainers of America. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is nothing left to shoot, but darkness!

September 13, 2010

An open letter of Resignation to the American People

by bmiller445

Resignation letter

It is with a heavy heart, a clear conscious, sand in my shoe, and of sound mind and body that I tender my resignation. While I admit no wrong doing I feel that it is in the interest of the American people and with the hope to allow Best Buy to heal that I step down.

In regards to Monster 1000 cable, I have come to terms with it. There is nothing wrong with charging a premium for a well made product constructed by tiny bloody hands, with minerals mined by exploited workers. As to the credit apps I had people fill out though I will have to answer to Jesus Christ himself. Each night before bed I pray for his mercy and as I lay there falling asleep I hope that our Lord is a consumer of high end electronics slightly outside the grasps of his earnings.

To Alex I leave the pair of sunglasses I think I left in the drawer back in home theater.

To Sean I leave my family mansion located in the hills of west Virginia, with the stipulation that he spend one night in it. It is possibly haunted or my uncle is squatting in it, either way good luck.

To Philip I leave my love and these words “I would look you in the eyes, and it would be ok.”

I will leave my badge and gun on your desk in two weeks.

With love,
Billy Miller Esquire

May 16, 2010

Grateful for The Dead (Weather) – A review of the new Dead Weather album

by George

When their debut, Horehound, came out last year, I figured that the Dead Weather would just be another notch on the bedpost of musical projects for drummer/singer Jack White (see also The White Stripes & Raconteurs). ¬†I was pleasantly¬†surprised¬†when I was greeted with a sleazy, leather-jacket wearing slab of 70’s style rock (they even put some Zep-style blues raunch on a Dylan tune). ¬†It was simple, fuzzier than a moldy peach and most definitely rock but it still took me a few months to fully appreciate. ¬†I soon came to realize that what lay before me was a go-to rock record.

That’s why I was chomping at the bit to pick up their latest album, Sea of Cowards. ¬† It’s certainly more musically varied than their debut but the core elements are still there: thick distorted guitars and bass (with plenty of unrestrained feedback); the quirky organ & synthesizer melodies that make you wanna shake your ass; the simple but effective backbeat drumming raining with cymbal crashes. ¬†Lyrically and musically, each of these songs follow a most weird spiral inward, repetitiously meandering with (seemingly) no purpose until they flip the switch and the bands breaks out into a heavy, head-nodding groove. ¬†For me, the standout performance that claws its way to the top of this sloppy (in a good way) rock mess is the venom-spit vocal delivery from singer Alison Mosshart. ¬†Her vocal delivery on this album seems like the cue to let the band know when to turn it up and let loose for a few bars. ¬†Coupled with the occasional vocal duet from behind the drum kit, these chant-like mantras shake the listener with intensity. ¬†Here are the tunes I’m diggin’ after the first few listens:

  • The opener, ‘Blue Blood Blues’, steps in with a drunken swagger and a slippery guitar/bass line that serves as the perfect linkage for listeners from the last record. ¬†Some trippy, looped vocals at the track’s end give way to the funky bass line intro of ‘Hustle and Cuss’
  • ‘Jawbreaker’ is another tune that comes in with a dirty, hip-swinging rock and roll feel before¬†switching¬†gears into a rapid-fire, stop & start descending drum fill/synth arpeggio that reminds me of the post-breakdown (~ 4:57 mark) drum¬†pummeling¬†of ‘Dazed and Confused’.
  • The truly¬†bizarre¬†‘Old Mary’ simply because of it’s foreboding, slurred organ drawl and killer final lyric (Carry this burden, now and till the moment of your last breath)

Just like the debut, I think that I will need a few months to digest this album as well. ¬†If the last record brought to mind 70’s rock, it seems like the band has taken another half-step toward the 80s;¬†the prominence of buzzy synth/organ lines is the most noticeable musical difference from their last offering. ¬†At first glance, it may seem like those crazy kids have simply found more ways to keep the retro-without-coming-off-as-trying-to-hard vibe going but I think that this record serves as a solid platform for The Dead Weather to continue building their own¬†schizophrenic¬†sound.

-George

May 12, 2010

The Trifecta of Evil

by bmiller445

What keeps you awake at night? Are you worried about your children, dirty bombs, terrorist threat levels, fecal borne disease? You’re not alone, there are lots of people out there as irrational, ill-informed, and just as cowardly as your are. Some of us have real fears though. Fears made from things that have bubbled up from the depths of hell, some of us fear that that is the worst of man and beyond. Some of us aren’t vaginas. What is a man like me afraid of you ask…? (go ahead ask it, I need to hear you say it.) I fear the Trifecta of Evil.

The Trifecta of Evil is like if all evil in the known universe had a race where speed was evil these would be the winners of that race hands down. (Perhaps your thinking that that was a poorly made metaphor. Jokes on you asshole it was a poorly made simile.) Nazis place first hands down, they’re the evil leaders of evil. They have the ability to shape the minds and hearts of evil, they rolled a 20 in charisma. A distant second is Zombies, they’re evil and hell bent on death and destruction, but deep down they’re primal, a force of nature and can’t answer for their crimes. Then there are Aliens. These fellow denizens ¬†of the universe aren’t inherently evil, but have the ability, just as we humans do, to create Nazis, but Nazis that have mastered intergalactic space travel, so that’s the shits.

At night I lay awake ¬†wondering if I am prepared when any or, God forbid, all of these things happen. I imagine a world of chaos and pray that the good stand together hand in, brain protecting helmets on, ready to do what it takes to beat these things back. As I laid in bed just the other night with my eyes wide open and my body paralyzed in fear as the flames began to lick at my imagination (an imagination that probably makes brains only that much more tasty and tempting to zombies.) I had a terrible realization. I hadn’t even considered robots. I now where pajama pants to bed so I don’t directly crap onto the sheets.

-Billy

February 20, 2010

Watermelon exploding – Single shot

by John
February 16, 2010

1000 Frames Per Second – Episode 2

by John

Blowing up watermelons, a canon and weedeating in super-slow motion.

Email your requests to 1000framespersecond@gmail.com

January 20, 2010

Why read? And especially why read this site?

by bmiller445

Reading is hard. You have to read and stuff and that can be tiring.So I thought I would help everyone back into the blog by giving some tips on how I do it.

Most of the time I enjoy reading from left to right. This is usually the best way to go about reading directionally speaking, though I have heard of other countries that do it other ways and I do mean heard. I’ve never read that, left to right, or otherwise. I also only do my reading in places where I can’t be watching TV like:

The bathroom
The library
Work
In Post Apocalyptic settings

This way I know I couldn’t have been spending my time on something I enjoy more.

Also I enjoy “reading between the lines” and making broad inferences. Take these lines from Wikipedia for instance:

In particle language, the constant Higgs field is a superfluid of charged particles, and a charged superfluid is a superconductor. Inside a superconductor, the gauge electric and magnetic fields both become short-ranged, or massive.

In my head this is nothing but a poorly veiled reference to sex. Whatever scientist (random guy) put this statement together obviously meant for us to get a little more out of that than can be seen at first glance. I know this because I scanned the sentences quickly without any comprehension, but saw the words superfluid and massive.

So that is how to read, but why should you read this site?

Well, what else are you going to do at work? Don’t say work, because that makes you a liar and Jesus cries. So if you can’t be playing games, watching TV, or messing with gadgets then you should be reading about those things so you can be ready to do them when you get home.

But why not read another, better site?

That is just a rude question and I don’t appreciate my asking it. Plus, those other sites give you herpes. Already have herpes? This site can cure it*.

So, new reader, read on just as I have taught you. And learn, learn about the things you love. (none of which being reading) To get you started I’ll write a couple of line below that you can practice reading between the lines.

Sister Mary Catherine checked to make sure the safety on her gun was off. She had cleaned it the night before, making sure every piece was oiled and ready. She wasn’t going to get burned again by a jammed 45. As bombay doors opened she imagined herself soaring across the sky raining fire from¬†above, if only. From here out it was in God’s hands.

Billy

*This site cannot cure herpes.

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