Sunday, March 24, 2019

Long Live The Flaneur


Picture the scene.
Saturday afternoon. I'm out and about and have some time to kill. I usually find a coffee shop and do some writing. I like to support local businesses and with a recommendation I head to a small business. I order my coffee and a cake, the woman behind the counter takes my money, rings it in, gives me my change and says "I'll have to give you your coffee in a takeaway cup because we close in 10 minutes." It's 3:50pm.
This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Not at this place but at 2 other small and local to me businesses. If I'd been told they were nearly closing before they'd taken my money I would have gone somewhere else. If I'm out for coffee I don't want to have to rush through my purchase. If they're closing soon just let me know or put your opening times on the door.
It would seem that small businesses have a lot to learn about how to communicate with their customers. The corporates seem to have this covered and I'm leaning towards them at the moment which is a shame. Yesterday my sit in coffee option was Greggs. The coffee isn't bad at all and I can get something lite to eat for me and my girlfriend for the same price that I paid for what I had today.
It would seem that in this smartphone age I'm expected to have full details about where I'm going via the net before I get there. So long serendipity.
The flaneur in me is discouraged from places with poor communication skills. That's not what I want when interacting with the community.

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.