Monday, April 25, 2005

Mozilla Thunderbird does work with Versamail

I've been fiddling with Palm's somewhat lame Versamail app again. One of the things I gave up when I switched to Thunderbird from Outlook Express was the ability to sync my inbox to my Palm TE. Today I tried setting up a direct sync to Google's Gmail but the only version of Versamail that is available for the Palm TE does not properly support SSL connections that Gmail requires. While browsing around I found a message that indicated that Versamail would work fine with Thunderbird if you selected the Eudora client in Versamail. Worth a shot. What do you know - it works. I don't know why this isn't more widely advertised but I'm pleased to have this functionality back.

It's annoying that Palm will not keep these apps up to date for existing users. They never update the Palm Desktop. There's so much functionality that is missing. Palm is disappointing these days.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Switched to WPA security today

I heard about a free utility that allowed earlier versions of Windows to use WPA wireless security. I still have an old Sony 505 on my wireless network. Since this runs Windows 98 SE, I had to limit my security to WEP. Then I read about this free product that would let me upgrade to WPA. It installed easily and then I switched over my router to WPA. I also set the wireless mode to 802.11g only to get the maximum speed. All I had to do was update all my other Windows XP wireless computers to WPA and things were great. Now I'm reasonably secure for a home network. All my neighbors run their networks wide open. I guess they are more trusting?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Martha Stewart Thinks an iPod is a Radio

So I'm watching Martha Stewart blather on at the Sirius press conference to announce her new Martha Stewart channel on Sirius. She's droning on about she and her family are such radio people and she veers into this riff about how she would like to thank Steve Jobs for inventing the iPod and how her daughter is such a big iPod user and thinks the iPod "radio" is just great for busy people. The Sirius marketing people must be spilling blood all over the place. Talk about unscripted moments. It was evidently clear that Martha Stewart doesn't have a clue what she's talking about. Someone needs to lossen her security ankle bracelet. It's clearly cutting off the blood supply.

Martha! The iPod is a portable audio device for playing ripped or downloaded music. It is not a radio and it is in direct competition to Sirius. Sheesh!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Vinyl LP day today

Started out very early today to attend the annual Stone Ridge School Book Sale. A bit of a misnomer as they sell records, cds, dvds and other collectibles in addition to records. In past years, I've scored some choice vinyl items. Prices are absurdly reasonable at one dollar a record. This year I got there at shortly after the opening time of 8 am. Pretty early for me these days. I would say the selection was about average. I picked up about 30 records that I've already set about cleaning with my VPI record cleaning machine.

This got me back into the mood of spinning some vinyl. I have a very modest Music Hall MMF 2 turntable hooked up to my upstairs computer/music studio system. I had been annoyed by some apparent background hum that I always thought was leakage of the magnetic motor field into the cartridge. Well, I really got into it today and discovered that in fact the turntable belt was not riding the crown of the motor pulley but riding up to the top of the pulley. I went about for a way to to correct this. The turntable is serviceable but a bit kludgey. The motor is suspended on a rubber band of sorts with four screw mounts. I determined that I need to pull the front of the motor back under some tension so that it would not lean forward. The solution was absurdly simple. One simple rubber band wrapped under the front of the motor and secured on the two rear screw mounts and I had enough tension to allow the belt to ride correctly on the crown of the pulley. Instant silence and sonic bliss. I wish I could have figured this out a long time ago. Now I am stoked to transfer some more vinyl to CD with improved sonics.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A New Song For Spring

So, I wrapped up my taxes yesterday and now I am free to get back to my hobbies.

I've been experimenting with the effects processor built into the Emu Emulator X soundcard I bought a while back. This card is chock full of features. Unfortunately, the device drivers have been very troublesome. I notified Emu over six months ago of a confirmed bug and they totally dropped the ball in responding to my report. I recently contacted them and Sony about the ASIO driver bug and have finally gotten acknowledgement that they are aware of the problem. No date on when I can expect a fix. Supposedly, Emu will release updated drivers in May. I can only hope they start to solve the problems so many have experienced.

Anyway, I hadn't gotten around to testing out all the onboard effects presets for guitar that are included with the Emu patchmix application. I've stumbled upon some very nice sounds. The advantage here is that I can apply the effects before I send the audio to Acid so I can record the modified signal. Acid doesn't support ASIO direct monitoring like Sonar and other apps so that you can hear VST effects in real time while you record.

I was noodling around on the guitar and came up with a minor key jazzy chord sequnce that I became enamored with. I wasn't planning on creating a song out of this but one thing led to another before I knew it I had pretty decent short tune. I call it Tax Free. It reminds me a bit of John Abercrombie's great 80's quartet. On a whim I decided to incorporate the Edirol Hypercanvas soft synth to add piano, drums, and bass. I was particularly pleased with the drum sound where I use a lot of cymbals. I'm still learning my way with MIDI drums but I like the result I got this time. The piano and acoustic bass sounds fell into place and I believe the song hangs together fairly well. I've uploaded it to Acid Planet. I hope I get a few listens and comments.

Amazingly, Acid was rock solid throughout the entire recording session. I even switched to ASIO for recording the MIDI parts in order to get better latency. I'm not sure why things worked so well this time when I've had problems in the past. I did stick to standard 44k 16bit resolution. Also, I had just rebooted after installing the latest Microsoft security updates. A puzzle, but I am not complaining as long as it allows me to be creative and not fight the hardware/software.