Bill Roper's Journal
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30th-Oct-2014 10:38 pm - My Advice, Sir? Get De-Licer!
So daisy_knotwise got a call from the school today letting her know that she should come get Katie and Julie, for they have acquired a lice infestation from somewhere. Katie's is worse, but seems to have responded well to the anti-lice treatments. Julie was actually mostly clean.

Gretchen and I will be conducting our own inspection this evening, although we are for the moment happily asymptomatic.


Time to wash some more bedding...
29th-Oct-2014 04:17 pm - Oh! That Sounds Good
I took daisy_knotwise down to the studio to listen to the scratch track that I'd recorded through the new mic pre.

She concluded that it sounded very good (performance notwithstanding :) ) and that it had just the right amount of reverb on it.

Well, it didn't actually have any reverb on it other than the natural ambiance of the room and the differences in placement of the mics, but...
29th-Oct-2014 04:14 pm - Download Cards -- Thanks!
Thanks for all the suggestions about how we might manage the sale of download cards. daisy_knotwise and I are mulling them over and we'll see what we sort out.
28th-Oct-2014 05:00 pm - A Small Technical Difficulty Solved
So having installed the new audio interface box, I ran to the basement last night to record a scratch track for the GAFilk Songbook so that quadrivium might still have a chance to transcribe it. As I worked through a number of small problems, such as a microphone that had been partially disassembled by little girls, my inability to read a perfectly well-labeled mic cable, and a glitch in the final verse that won't actually affect the transcription, but which makes me sound like an idiot as I forget the words that are sitting in front of me :), I eventually managed to get a scratch track that would solve the current problem. And the recording sounded pretty good as I ran to the studio to set the levels for the mic-pre, then checked the levels on the old Frontier Designs Tranzport remote control to make sure that I was getting a decent level.

Compared to the old studio setup where I had a mic-pre and the requisite knobs for adjusting levels sitting in the recording booth, the procedure was, well, a bit suboptimal. If I needed to adjust levels, I would have to get up and go back to the recording booth. If only there were something I could do about that...

It turns out that there was.

The new mic-pre has a console app that you can use to set the levels (among a great many other things it does). Of course, that console app is running on the Windows box which is firmly ensconced in the other room. I just needed a way to reach ghostly fingers through the wall and tweak that interface.

Which is what VNC will let you do.

So I loaded a VNC server onto the computer and a VNC client onto my increasingly aged Toshiba tablet. And after a bit of messing around, I can now control the console interface from the recording booth.

And there was much rejoicing. :)
27th-Oct-2014 11:38 am - The Trouble With Download Cards
Let me preface this by saying that I believe that no dishonesty was involved in any of this.

A number of the folks whose albums we sell have asked us about selling their download cards. Generally, we decline, partly because we're not really set up to sell download cards and partly because we've had this nagging intuition that told us that people were going to assume that these were giveaway business cards or promotional items of some kind and would pick them up and take them with them without paying for them. It's easier to disabuse someone of that notion when things aren't particularly busy at your table -- "not particularly busy" are not words I would generally use to describe OVFF.

Debs & Errol had asked if we'd carry their merchandise for them at the con, which we were happy to do once we'd worked out the finances to everyone's satisfaction. :) They had three items: a CD (which we bought a chunk of after the con so that we can carry them regularly), a book of their webcomics (which aren't really the sort of thing we usually carry, so the remaining copies went home with them), and the dreaded download cards where we said "Sure, let's give it a shot."

For the last year, we've been running all of our transactions through Square. Recently, Square has been working to improve their inventory handling and one of the things that I just noticed that you could get was a report of the items that were sold. It will also keep track of your inventory in hand which is a nice feature as well, although I will probably still want to inventory as we pack up, because a physical inventory is always trump in these situations.

Anyway, when Debs came by to check out after the con, we counted the stack of download cards. It had started at 20, it was now 10, and I paid her for 10.

Checking our Square report, I see that we sold eight.


I'm pretty firmly convinced that the two missing cards did not go to someone who intended to take an item for sale off the table without paying for it. I think they assumed that they were free promotional items of some kind, despite the hastily crafted note we'd put next to them indicating that they were download cards. And spot-checking the rest of the inventory tells me that people aren't just walking off with things, which is exactly what I'd expected, because folks are basically honest. And this was an honest mistake, in my opinion.

But we can't sell an item where we're losing two copies for every eight copies that we actually sell.

So Gretchen and I are kicking around ideas for how we could handle download cards without people making this mistake and also without making selling them a major pain in the butt. So far, we've got no magic bullets.

Maybe you've got some ideas...
26th-Oct-2014 11:55 pm - Home Again
And we're home from OVFF, where we had a wonderful time.

Many thanks to Lisa and her crew who kept little girls entertained so we didn't have to. :)

More later -- there's a lot of tired here...
25th-Oct-2014 10:55 pm - Meanwhile, Back at OVFF
Things have been a bit chaotic on our end, but we're having a good time. Open filking soon, after I take care of a couple of things.
24th-Oct-2014 08:59 am - Almost...
We are almost packed. And we have to mail the electric bill.

But with a bit of luck, we will be on the road shortly.
23rd-Oct-2014 06:32 pm - The Dreaded Deadline Doom
There is nothing like a deadline to spur me into action. In this case, daisy_knotwise and I now have a song for the OVFF Songwriting Contest that we finished writing last night.

The fact that it was Gretchen's birthday and writing a new duet was probably the thing that she wanted most for her birthday did not hurt at all. :)
22nd-Oct-2014 11:12 am - Happy Birthday, Gretchen
Today is daisy_knotwise's birthday. Sadly, I have meetings in the Loop today, so I had to leave before she was awake. But I trust that by now she has received birthday cards from Katie and Julie (and maybe other things -- I never know what to expect on that front).

Happy birthday, love.
21st-Oct-2014 09:54 pm - Jet Lag
With meetings in the Loop the first part of this week, I'm getting up more than an hour earlier than I have been lately. Sadly, this doesn't mean getting to bed any earlier, as getting Katie and Julie into bed early is not happening.

Going into OVFF on a sleep deficit is one of those Bad Ideas (TM), but pretty much unavoidable.

Of course, Gretchen and I may trade off napping in the car on the drive down. I have My Little Pony DVDs here somewhere to keep Katie and Julie occupied...
20th-Oct-2014 10:54 pm - From C to Shining C
I appear to be working on a new song. It appears to be in the key of C.

Personally, I find this surprising. :)
19th-Oct-2014 06:37 pm - A Fine Whine
In other news, daisy_knotwise tells me that her computer has stopped making the annoying high-pitched whining noise after yesterday's cleaning.

That must have been one unhappy fan...
19th-Oct-2014 06:34 pm - It Is Wired
With some help from Gretchen and Katie (whose little arm can reach through the cable port from the engineering room to the recording booth), the studio is now completely rewired.

Now I just need to figure out what I'm doing with everything in the new configuration. (Also, the control surface that I've ordered isn't shipping yet, so that'll be a while longer. It looks like it's delayed until next year.)

All that said, it's time to go fire up the grill. :)
18th-Oct-2014 07:16 pm - Let There Be Sound
After a large number of wiring adventures, I finally got to wire up my new UA audio interface to the Mackie Big Knob and the speakers. Then I fired up Cubase to see what I had.

So far, it sounds good. :) Mind you, I haven't actually tried recording anything with it yet, because that would require running more cables that I have not yet run. Nor have I finished the other wiring under the desk, so there are still a good number of wires to be hooked up.

But I can play things back now. And that's progress.
18th-Oct-2014 03:39 pm - Dust In the Wind
daisy_knotwise reported to me last night that her computer was not talking to either the monitor or the keyboard. This is usually believed to be a Bad Thing (TM). Today, I went to check on it.

Gretchen has a little Acer mini-tower that I bought, plugged in, and have spent most of the time ignoring, other than fixing the occasional network problem, making sure that antivirus software is installed, and the like. I verified that it wasn't booting up and decided it was time to open it up.

Of course, I'd never opened it up before. :)

The two thumbscrews on the back were more than hand-tightened, but a screwdriver took care of that. Then you have to pull the side off while pushing a little lever to unlock it. I hadn't seen that system before, but it wasn't too hard to figure out, so off it came.

Oh, look. Dust.

Now, given what I pulled out of my system a year or so ago, I hardly have room to talk. But this system was literally choked with dust. I handed Gretchen the side panel to clean off and then just started raking dust out with my hand. I eventually figured out how to pop off the cover that held the expansion cards in place so I could get to the last of the dust -- and as I pulled the lone expansion card out, I studied it closely and suddenly said, "Look! A modem!" I didn't know this box had a modem in it. Not that a modem is particularly useful nowadays...

I figured I might as well replace the battery while I was in there, so I got Gretchen to fetch one from the stash in the basement where I've been working on things. And I found the CMOS recovery jumper in case I needed it.

Let's take a look at the CPU fan. I poked at it with a screwdriver and pulled out a fat dust bunny that was nearly an inch long. As I rotated the fan, I eventually pulled out another three similar dust bunnies before the fan turned freely. I puffed into the case and blew out the last of the dust, then rolled back over to Gretchen's computer desk and plugged everything back in.

The computer booted up happily. And there was much rejoicing.

The side cover is now reinstalled and the computer is back beneath the desk.

Another technological hurdle overcome by thorough dusting. :)
That was pretty much the story of the evening anyway.

I'm testing out the spare CPU for the d8b, but the BIOS settings had been corrupted, so last night I pulled the battery so they'd clear and I could try resetting them. I was rewarded with the BIOS screen today, but then made an error when playing with the BIOS and it was time to pull the battery again. *sigh*

Meanwhile, it was time to power up the studio computer and see if I could get the new audio interface running. I'd already installed the recommended SIIG Firewire card, so it was route monitor cables, USB cables, keyboard cables, and mouse cables under the console and plug them all in. Then I plugged in the assorted dongles, the network cable, the lovely new Firewire cable, and booted things up.

Sadly, I'd gotten the keyboard and mouse cable reversed. More no-longer-needed extension cables were removed, the cables plugged in correctly, and the system booted again. Then, following the instructions for the Firewire card, I installed the drivers from the CD.

Then I installed the plug-ins for the new audio interface from the website.

Ok, now shut down the computer, turn on the audio interface, and restart.

The computer rebooted, saw the new device, went looking for drivers and failed.


I rebooted a couple of times, fiddled around with the partially installed devices, and generally had less than no luck. The company's website was of no help, so I went Googling and noted that someone had complained about a problem with his Firewire drivers and this device.

Fine. I opened up Device Manager and updated the drivers for the Firewire card.

And look at that! The audio interface started installing itself. Eureka!

(Apparently the instructions from the interface manufacturer should have said, "Buy this particular card, but don't install the drivers that come with it, because we don't work with them." Live and learn.)

Once the interface was installed, it then downloaded and installed a firmware update.

Then I went on the website, registered the interface, and downloading the authorization code for the plugins.

While all this was going on, I also uninstalled the software for my old, now removed, RME RayDAT card. And I downloaded the twenty Windows updates that had accumulated. And updated my antivirus software. And read my e-mail.

Anyway, it looks like the interface is ready to go, so now it's a matter of reconfiguring Cubase to use it.

And attaching all of the rest of the wires.

There are a great many wires.
16th-Oct-2014 11:14 pm - Booting Up -- Or Not
I should be selling the d8b this weekend if all goes according to plan, so I wanted to test out the spare CPU / power supply that I bought several years back. Unfortunately, although everything powers up, the spare doesn't boot. I suspect that the BIOS settings are corrupt, so I've popped the battery out of the board, unplugged the unit, and will wait and see what it has to say tomorrow.

Sadly, there doesn't appear to be a "clear BIOS settings" jumper on this motherboard. Because that would be too simple...
15th-Oct-2014 10:47 pm - *sigh*
It is being a very annoying day.

I think I'll go watch Once Upon A Time with Gretchen and get some sleep.
14th-Oct-2014 10:30 pm - Back to Work
Slightly jet-lagged, I was back to work today. And progress was made.

Although there was one thing that happened that has caused me to bang my head against the wall, wondering if someone was thinking at all.

Some days, it is like that...
13th-Oct-2014 12:52 am - And We're Done
The Dead Dog filk is over and ConChord is done for the year. I've had a wonderful time and heard a lot of good music. Many thanks to Kate and Nick for inviting me.

And you all should show up here next year, because there's going to be one monstrous musical blowout of a con. :)
12th-Oct-2014 02:38 am - Sleep, Sleep Is Good
Lots of good music today and tonight. Matt and Mary did a lovely set, the Interfilk auction was fun, and my concert seemed to go well. The open filk was winding down by a bit after 2 AM, and sleep seems like a fine idea.

I do, however, know that I am not too asleep to notice that the new Chrome update has broken auto-correction and two spaces for a period on my phone.
11th-Oct-2014 12:34 am - ConChord
I made it here with minimum difficulty and am having a great time. However, it is 2 AM Chicago time and time to go to sleep. :)
10th-Oct-2014 07:46 am - Almost Gone
I'm almost packed -- I still need to shave and throw the last few things in the suitcase. Sam and Bonnie are on their way here to drop me at the airport on their way to ConClave. (Thanks, guys!)

Maybe I should get off the Internet and finish up. :)
9th-Oct-2014 10:43 pm - Time to Pack!
I'm off to ConChord / Conjecture in San Diego tomorrow, where I'm delighted to be the Music Guest of Honor. Little girls have just tumbled into bed, so it's time to finish up the final bits and pieces here and get packed up so I can head to the airport tomorrow morning.

See some of you there!
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