Saturday, March 23, 2019

Legoish


It's been a long time since I played with Lego.
Probably about 39 years I reckon. I didn't have a lot of Lego. A few road base plates, some mini figures, vehicles and enough bricks to built a very small town.
For a whole summer holiday I made up my own adventures in Lego. I had just moved house and didn't have any new friends so I stayed in and played. I taught myself how to draw Superman too by copying from an annual I'd been given.
Not long after that summer I moved again but my Lego didn't move with me and since then I've thought about building worlds to escape into.

Eventually I got a computer and played with 3D. Bryce 3D was my weapon of choice for a long time but that disappeared with Windows many moons ago now.
With the arrival of my new PC I've once again found avenues to wander down. With a decent graphics card and a world of free software I've opted for Blender and LeoCAD.
Blender is about as good as it gets for 3D and really needs no introduction. On the other hand LeoCAD is new to me. I'm so glad I found it. As many free bricks of all shapes and sizes and all the mini figures one could ever want.
They're both free. What more could I want.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Full Speed Ahead


This is my first post from my new PC.
It's a bit of a powerhouse. That's all you need to know, I won't go into the specifications.
It's taken me all night to sort everything out. I've had cables in then out and back in again. I've re-arranged stuff so many times that I probably won't recognize this room tomorrow.
Some things didn't work as expected but most things did so overall I'm pleased with the outcome.
The one thing I can't find is my outboard sound card. I'll have to look for that tomorrow. I've seen it recently but where I've put it is anybody's guess. It's not a small thing and I need it for MIDI stuff. I've no doubt I'll find it.
It's just a case of when!

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Something Old


Well here's a blast from the past.
I went into the loft today and dragged out my old Yamaha PSR-240. It's probably about 5 years since I last turned it on. I needed a bit of a wipe down and the rubber feet had perished so cleaning took well over an hour. Nevertheless it powered up and still plays nicely.
One good thing about limited keyboards is that with only a few sounds you'll ever use one spends more time actually composing because there are few distractions. After skimming through a PDF manual I noticed that in the MIDI section it recommended hooking up to a QY70. I don't have one but I do have a QY100 so guess what I did? The answer is nothing. I can't remember where I've put my MIDI cables. At 4am it's way too early/late to start rooting around and making a noise so I'll do that tomorrow.
The great thing about the PSR-240 is that it's already set up to talk to the QY series. The MIDI channels don't need any configuration. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

In other news, I'm writing this post on my Pi-Top laptop. The touch pad is quite big but not ideally suited to dragging windows around the screen so I bought it a wireless mouse. The Logitech mouse was cheap and cheerful and works right out of the box with Linux which is why I use them pretty much exclusively.

I bought a QY10 last week which MyHermes managed to lose so no new QY to play with. That's a real shame because I wanted a portable, carry anywhere sequencer. Oh well another time, I have bigger things to concentrate on, talking of which...

I'm hoping that in about 2 weeks time to bring you some exciting news on this blog about my music studio. I'm saying nothing at the moment. I'll wait until everything is in place.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pseudo Random Numbers


If you aren't interested in random numbers just skip this post.
Keep in mind that there is content here and log it for later. At some point in the future random numbers will be a valuable commodity.

The reason I made that last statement is that privacy is increasingly important and that privacy depends on good and absolutely random numbers. So why am I blogging about pseudo random numbers? After all, they're not really random. There may be times when you may not have true random numbers available to you. If pseudo random numbers are all you have they'll be better than nothing. This post shows you how to create PRN's on a cheap calculator. The calculations can be done with pencil and paper but a calculator like the one above will be quicker. I recently bought a similar one in a charity shop for £3. An even cheaper non scientific calculator will work for this also.

If your curiosity has got you this far I'd recommend watching a really good video on YouTube. It's just under 15 minutes long. The calculation used for the Linear Congruential Generator wasn't explained in simple enough terms for me so that's what I plan to do here.

How would you interpret the equation in the video so as to resolve it on a calculator? Here's how.

First the equation: 
(seed · a + c) mod m

Where seed = starting value, m = modulus, a = multiplier, c = increment.
The values in the video would make the equation as follows.

(4321 · 378 + 2310) mod 7829

On your calculator press the following keys:

4321 x 378 + 2310 =

The result will be 1635648. Write this down or just leave it on screen if your calculator lets you calculate an answer. We'll be using this figure for the mod part below.
Let's just say you've cleared your screen, key in:

1635648 ÷ 7829 =

The result is 208.922. Next subtract 208 from the last answer as follows:

208.922 - 208 =

All we did there is to subtract the number before the decimal point which in this case was 208. The result is now 0.922.
Take this answer and multiply it by your modulator which in our case is 7829.

0.922 x 7829 =

The answer is 7216 which is the same answer in the video linked above.
This number is now the new modulator. Just keep repeating the steps above until you have enough pseudo random numbers.

The numbers used above can be whatever you like but as mentioned in the video the higher the modulus the better.
I'll be covering other methods of obtaining pseudo random numbers soon and later methods for true random numbers. Pseudo random numbers are fairly easy to create and can also be used for creating true random numbers.
More on that another day.
If you've made it this far, well done.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

More Latex


I made a promise to myself to write this year.
The main object of that resolution was to get back to being creative. So far I've been doing alright. What I write doesn't matter. It could be music, fiction, non-fiction or just scribbles in a notebook. I'm covering all four so far and then some.

As mentioned last time I'm just getting into using LaTeX. It's basically a markup language which I'm very comfortable with having learned HTML in a text editor many moons ago. LaTeX is much more that HTML. It's the equivalent of HTML plus CSS with a bag of tricks thrown in.
I've just spent a few hours practising in the Atom editor, which in itself is a joy to use, and produced the layout for a work of non-fiction including a table of contents, chapters and footnotes. All I need to do now is add the content. Even before I've really started it's looking professional and that is encouragement enough.
It won't matter that it won't be published by someone like Penguin, I'll do it myself with a creative commons licence. My fiction will probably go the same way as my music has before. Like it or loath it, it's all free. I'll just be happy that my written words will look good and I'll leave readers to decide on the content.

What matters to me most is that I'm really enjoying my writing this year and that I have enough projects to bounce between. I like that when the ideas for one project dry up I can move on to something else until inspiration strikes that topic again. Talking of which, I've run out of things to say here.
At least until next time you know I'll be busy.