So… why “fyngyrz”? Pick, planchette, pluck.

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The answer to that is pretty simple, really. Back in the day, I was all about guitar. I worked, dreamed, and struggled with guitar, and like many young men of my generation, I had some pretty high hopes. Alas, that career came to a screeching halt when I was offered payment in cocaine instead of money by an (otherwise) reputable studio you might very well recognize. studio-mg74 Both insulted and somewhat paranoid, I no longer made myself available to them as a studio musician, and that was the beginning of the end. It all worked out for the best, I think; turned out I was a pretty successful engineer, and on top of that, I actually enjoyed the work. From there, I began to focus on programming, and here we are today.

So anyway, here’s something from back in the day. It was recovered from 2nd-generation tape masters and consequently suffers from some sonic crud (not to mention the damage done by the mp3 encoding) but you’ll get the idea. It’s structured as a jam rather than a straight cover; a vague, building meditation upon a theme. Here you go:


Instrumental, Washburn MG-74 guitar, Gibson Les Paul studio bass.

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Review: E-Flite Blade 350 QX Quadcopter

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The Blade 350 QX quadcopter is an almost-perfect example of its class. Three flight modes provide almost the perfect range from well behaved and safe to crazily agreeable to any insane set of control inputs you supply.

Blade 350 QX

Blade 350 QX

It is light, provides a reasonable flight time with the supplied battery, and you’re pretty well guaranteed to have more fun than you expect fooling around with it.

But that’s not all. The 350 is powerful enough, and stable enough, to carry a Go Pro camera and take awesome HD movies and stills from the air. You can spin the quadcopter in place and create a fabulous pan, or fly right up to something you otherwise can’t get to and take a closeup. Or just fly around and take a look at the countryside.

Everything you need is supplied in the package; the quadcopter, the hand controller, batteries, a charger (12 vdc… meant to hook to your car’s electrical system so you can recharge in the field), and you even get a set of extra blades. Which you are unlikely to need if you are even just a little bit careful. The manual is a little dense, and because of that you’ll have to read it carefully, but everything you need to know is actually in there within twelve pages.
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GMail degrades further. Thanks, Google.

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Well, today Google completely dropped support for the GMail desktop notifier. This is (ok, was) a handy little menu bar item that kept a count of how many messages were waiting, a list of message subjects, and gave a little ding-ding when new mail came in. It kept me from having to run my browser all the time, and I could easily hear when new mail arrived no matter where I was (my house is an open design, like a loft.)
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Buitoni Toaster Pizza

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Buitoni Toaster Pizza.

Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Seriously? Yes, seriously. These were amazing frozen little za’s you put in, heated a bit, let sit so they’d defrost all through, then put in for a final heating, and finally let sit for a minute after that, and then you could eat them. Oh, man were these amazingly good. A great sauce, excellent cheese, and the shell came out as a lightly browned, delicious crust.

You could do it wrong — over- or under-cook, not let it defrost completely, not wait that extra minute and burn the heck out of your mouth… all risks eminently worth taking.

Ever think you might like to do me a favor if it was easy? Then please go to Buitoni’s facebook page and nudge them about this. Or search Google and find the Buitoni Toaster Pizza page, join, “like” them, and say something nice to encourage them. I guarantee the odds are very high that if you love good pizza, you’d like these. It wasn’t fast food. It was something else entirely. Call it an accident, or a fortuitous event in frozen foods, but don’t write it off.

Buitoni Toaster Pizzas. Oh, man.

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Kenwood TS-990S Review

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ts990sI’ve been operating the Kenwood TS-990S for some months now, so it’s about time I actually review it. This review reflects operation under firmware 1.05 as downloaded from the Kenwood website.

Because there have been a number of reviews that have done an excellent job of enumerating the radio’s features, I’m going to come at this differently. I’m going to first give you an overview of how well I think it operates and how comfortable I’ve become (or not) with its features, along with an assessment of its value with regard to its capabilities. I’ll note a few things that seem unique to me, standout features that are really special from the operations standpoint.

Then I’m going to lay out, in detail, the critiques I have of the radio from an operating point of view — that’s something no one has really gone into as far as I know, and I hope you’ll find it useful. I even nurse a vague hope that Kenwood will, via Google-fu or some kind soul, find this and take some of my ideas to heart, because I really do think the radio could be significantly improved with just a firmware upgrade (or several.)
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Voice of Russia (former Radio Moscow) going dark

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Sad news — another important broadcaster is abandoning the short waves. On January 1st, 2014, VOR will cease transmitting except on medium wave, and a token presence on the Internet.

VOR has been broadcasting to one hundred sixty countries with about twenty five hours of programming each day. As Radio Moscow, VOR was the first shortwave station to broadcast internationally; with that credit, it is also at present the station with the longest continuous presence on the short waves.

Somewhere in my various pack-rattery, I have a beautiful mug from Radio Moscow, obtained in the late 1980′s if I recall correctly. I guess it’s time to bring it out and give it a place on the memorabilia shelves.

Well, I suppose there is a bright side: Without those big gun transmitters on the air, it’ll be a little easier to hear the smaller stations from time to time.

VOR joins the BBC in abandoning the shortwave bands; the slide continues.

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The KD0BCF de KC0OW show on 3843 KHz

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For my ham and SWL readers, I just wanted to point out a fun little thing that’s been going on for a while. KD0BCF, Tom, an atheist, and Scott, KC0OW, a christian, have been going at it, more or less politely, for some time now. I first ran into them SWL’ing the 75 meter ham band, and now I actively look for them, and if I find they’re on, I leave the dial right there.

Scott’s a lawyer, and you can tell that this forms the root of his arguing skills. Tom pretty much has Scott for lunch, or at least he has the times I’ve tuned in, but Scott’s ability to duck and cover and evade is right up there with some of the best I’ve seen. He also, it has to be said, appears to be very secure in his faith.

Both fellows are quite intelligent, and the tone of the rhetoric is generally well above what you’d expect for this kind of interaction, especially one that’s been going on this long. Kudos to both of them for keeping it mostly polite and cheery.

Subjects covered include religion (of course), politics, world events, fundamentalist broadcasts, Israel, Islam, etc.

A highly recommended little chunk of the SWL/ham experience. :)

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Credible Feminism and “Being Nice”

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The following is taken verbatim from a letter I wrote to the New York Times on July 31st, 2013, in response to an article where the author spoke to the desirability of asexual dressing and avoiding being nice just for the sake of smoothing social interactions:

Credible feminism drives equality of power, pay, opportunity, and recognition. It’s not about wearing pants to deny or distance gender. Men and women are naturally and irrevocably different in their sexuality: behavior that celebrates this — including that which drives sexually tuned plumage — is not only reasonable, it is healthy.

Women will never bridge the very real gap by attempting to subvert their own sexuality, because in doing so, they cede many cues of desirability to others.

The same thing applies to “nice.” Nice people are selected ahead of others for many roles simply because it is perceived that it will be more pleasant to be around them. If you eschew “nice”, you cede yet another social slice of desirability to others.

In either case, such a choice is completely up to the individual — but the consequences won’t be.

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