Tuesday, 23 May 2017

mic

I got a microphone for christmas. It has languished in its' box until this evening. I'd asked for it, expecting something fairly run of the mill. One step up from the things you can get to do karaoke games on the playstation.

Instead I got a big box with an assortment of shiny and professional looking bits and pieces inside. It has a stand that clamps onto a desk. The stand itself is all springs and cantilevers and lockable pivots so that it can be moved around from an anchored base. The microphone itself certainly looks good, in its electric blue anodised casing, and it has a foam cover that slips over the head of the mike like a Buck house guards hat. It has an attachable pop filter (so that your "p"s don't become "P"s.

Oooo!

So I've put it all together, and hooked it up to first my computer, then to my effects pedal. 

Nothing. Not a peep of my voice could I hear in my headphones, when I said the obligatory "tap... tap... 1... 2... 1... 2... Hello...? Is this thing on...?

 I opened it all up, to see if it needed a battery. Nope. No where for a battery to go. I looked closely for an on/off switch. Nope. Just silence. Eventually, I dug out the instructions. They turn out to be a masterpiece of broken English.

It starts out promisingly enough. "BROADCASTING AND RECORDING MICROPHONE" is splashed, full width across the top of the instruction sheet.

But then it goes on, "This is a professional condenser microphone," All just spiffing. Concise and coherent.

The sentence continues, "which adopts the exacting complete electronic circuit control and gold-plate diaphram capsule,the microphone with a good cardioids pickup pattern," I ran through this sentence several times, (Question... If the things between full stops is a sentence, is there a word for the thing that lies between two commas?) and sort of got the gist. It's gone all long winded and is trying to blind me with jargon. It goes on through several more commas, extolling the virtues of this microphone using idiosynchratic terms and erratic syntax. No help troubleshooting there, but after detailing the specs of the mic, it gives the following handy hints under the heading, "Usage:"

1.Turn on your amplifier or mixing board and set the volume control to minimum position. To connect the phantom power to the microphone turning on the phantom switch, accomodate the volume control from low to high so obtained effect to your moderate level for protected the sauna from pounding.

And apart from a few tips about avoiding feedback and the advisability of not dropping it or immersing it in water that's all I have. Probably best if I don't go anywhere near a sauna with it then.

There's a sort of volume/on-off switch thing with a usb connector at one end. When connected to my new pc,  pressing the buttons causes a little dialogue box to open up and give the volume level or if it's been muted. Connecting it to my old pac, it can be switched on, but it doesn't display anything. XP is probably too far back for it to work properly.

Still no output though, no matter what permutation of pathways I try.

Ah well. Bored with it now and want to do something more interesting. I'm doing some interesting stuff. I can now multi-track in a limited way. I can play and record at the same time. I can even play several wave files at once, and record onto another at the same time, but  there's no "play all" command, so synchronising drums, guitar, etc would be almost impossible to do perfectly. But I can record one thing, play it back, and play or sing over what's being played, and record the mix onto another wave file. Rinse and repeat until you reach the desired level of complexity.


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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

E I E I E I O... Up the Football Here We Go...

Football is weird.

I mean, I can't think of any other business that attracts the same emotional resonances.

Imagine, (To the tune of "Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go") Vodaphone, Vodaphone Vodaphone. Or "Oh Barclays bank, Is wonderful"

Yet football clubs are businesses. At the top level, they're pretty big companies. Lower down, not so much.

But, as Hillsborough shows, they're much more than that. They're also an expression of local pride and identity. Odd really, given that only the fan base is local. Generally the players, and owners are not.

And again at the top level, ordinary folks are having to fork out huge sums of money to get to see their team.

The product itself is an unscripted drama. Nothing is certain before the match kicks off, and watchers can be treated to rare displays of incredible skill. Or not.

When I was a kid, I occasionally used to go and stand on The Kop, struggling for a view, and getting shoved around all over the place by the surging sea of humanity watching the all conquering Liverpool team of the late 1970's strut their stuff. Rivers of piss down the back steps as most generally got oiled up at the local pubs before kick off.

In my late teens, or early twenties, I started going to watch my local team, Tranmere Rovers. My first match was against Crewe Alexandra. Both teams needed a draw to get promotion from the old 4th division, and incredibly, that's what happened. Almost 15,000 people went to see it. I thought it would be like that every week.

Of course, it wasn't. Generally gates of around 4-5,000 were the norm in those days, and I'd stand on the terraces, in hailstorms and frigid downpours to watch  Johnny King's Super White Army take on the likes of Rochdale, and  Mansfield Town. Or Aston Villa, Tottenham and Liverpool. They were easy times to be a supporter. The club was on the up, and until the wave broke, just short of the Premier League, they held their own against far bigger clubs.

Since then though, they've been hard going, and despite the occasional bright spot, the trend was relentlessly downwards.

Still, having reached the bottom of the football league, and beyond, Tranmere have found themselves the biggest fish is a small pond. With a change of ownership, an injection of funds, and the appointment of a manager who seems to know what he's doing, they've had a change of fortune. You can feel it. This season, they accumulated 95 points, but this wasn't enough thanks to a Lincoln City side that just never stopped winning.

So it was the play-offs for us.

See the "Us" there? Listen to any football phone in, and you'll here the same pronouns. "We.", "Us.", "Them."

But to say "So it was the play-offs for Tranmere" seems somehow wrong. Emotionless.

Anyway, "We" duly trounced Aldershot Town, 3-0 in the first leg, away from home. I went to watch the second leg at Prenton Park and watched, along with over 10,000 other souls, as a tight and sometimes nervy match finished 2-2. The outcome was probably never really in doubt, but if Aldershot had managed to turn their 2-1 lead into 3-1, there might have been a lot of hard bitten fingernails. I went on my own. Well, my mum and sister went along, but the part of the ground they'd got tickets for had individual seats, so if I'd got a ticket for the same part of the ground, I wouldn't have been with them anyway, so I went behind the goal, where I've always gone. It's a social event, and without being with anyone I knew, I felt a little bit disconnected.

I watched Tranmere play at Wembley 4 times back in the early 90's. Twice in the Leyland Daf Cup, and Twice in the third division (as was) play-off finals. The first year, they won the cup but lost the play off, the second year, they lost the cup but got promoted.

And now they're back. And I'm going, along with Dave and Trev. Heading down in the car on Saturday to stay at Dave's mate, Rick's flat in Bracknell, where we will be dissolute, then off on public transport to London to meet Dave's brother, Andy, and on to the national stadium.

In some ways, I'm glad they never made it to the top. The further up you go, the more corporate it becomes. but it promises to be a good weekend.


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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Disconnect

What's the worst thing in your living memory?

9-11? 3-4,000 people died horribly.

The boxing day tsunami of 2004? about a quarter of a million people were killed.

Perhaps you're an older reader? You might remember the second world war? Well that was pretty bad. Over 60 million people - about 3% of the global human population. At the time this was about 2.3 billion people.

Well they're all chickenfeed compared to what lies in our immediate future.

See, the carrying capacity of the pre-industrial world was around 1 billion people. It was "a world without reserves" to quote Bill Bryson.  Over the next few decades, we will enter a post industrial age. But there are seven billion of us now, and the number is still growing, despite the best attempts of terrorists and erratic drivers.

It seems to me that the task facing us is to manage the decline of human population in as humane and smooth a way possible.

Looked at this way, the most momentous of current events seem oddly trivial. Trump? Brexit? Terrorist bloke killing 5 in London? The latest Iphone?

It's weird.  I feel like I'm inside a rather depressing bubble watching an utterly unaware world outside that's got not the slightest inkling about what's going to happen. Knowledge is power. Ignorance is bliss. Take your pick.

I became a step-grandad for the second time today. I wonder what sort of world my new born grand-daughter will grow into?


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