sketchbook: stylophone!

I had a surprise knock on the door just before I left for work this morning — the delivery of a mystery package. The excitement only grew when I ripped open the satchel to reveal a surprise Xmas present: my very own Stylophone! They went back in to production a few years ago, but apart from a few minor additions it’s virtually identical to the classic units of the 60s: it works identically to the old models, and it definitely sounds just as cheesy-good.

In honour of my new toy, here’s a brief bit of Stylophone-infused doof-doof. I couldn’t help but put a filter sweep on the bass line, but apart from that, and copious echoes, the Stylophone sound is untouched. Enjoy! Let me know if you can’t play it, too — I’ve changed the streaming setup a little for this one.

mp3 | vorbis | 52 seconds

driving miss silvia

Here’s the obligatory post about my new coffee machine and grinder, and here’s the obligatory pic:

I’ve had them for about a week and a half now, and I’m super-happy with both — as you’d expect, they’re both nicer to use, and produce better results, than my old Saeco machine and Lux grinder, even though they’re fundamentally fairly similar machines. They’re both built like tanks, and the Silvia has a nice big brass boiler, so its temperature stays quite constant during brewing and it has a tonne of pressure while steaming milk.

The other great thing about the Silvia is that it has a standard 58mm group, just like a commercial machine — indeed, a number of the Silvia’s parts are shared with Rancilio’s commercial machines. That means that, in future, I can look at getting myself a naked portafilter, which I’m sure would be a lot of fun to play with.

more podcasting

Episode 28 of the Open Source Musicians Podcast is up, and as I mentioned yesterday, I’m once again on it! Skype garbled me a bit, but overall it turned out surprisingly well quality-wise, and it was great fun to record. I’ll have to be a bit more careful if I podcast again, though — at one point I got up for a few seconds, and while I thought to mute my mic on my mixer before I did, I must’ve dropped my headphones on my synth keyboard, which was still patched in, so everyone got a few seconds of synth sound action.

coming up milhouse

Feels like time for another bullet-point update!

  • We got a house! Well, provisionally anyway — we sign the lease on Saturday. It’s a cute little renovated two-bedroom place in Footscray, so it’s got a bit of that same old house charm that our Surrey Hills place had. Living west-side is going to be quite a change, but it’s a quiet spot, and it’s not far from Kensington or Yarraville, which both seem like awesome places to hang out. The timing is great too — we get the keys on January 5th, so we have plenty of time to give notice here and start packing and cleaning.
  • Royal Crown Revue tonight! Last week, Kat spotted that they were touring, so we grabbed some tickets. It was going to be a pain heading off to two house inspections this afternoon, then heading home and having to head back in to the city for the gig, but now that we’ve been approved we don’t have to worry about those inspections now.
  • I have a new coffee machine! I had been using a plunger at home since my old machine died a couple of months back, so I’m very glad to have a new one. It’s a Rancilio Silvia, and I got a new grinder (the matching Rancilio Rocky) as well. Perhaps now wasn’t the best time to buy new toys, but I got a great deal on it, and I sure as hell need my coffee right now!
  • I ended up on the Open Source Musicians podcast again on the weekend; one of the usual hosts couldn’t make it, so the other host, and a few of us that were online at the time, jumped in to a Skype conference call and talked crap for a bit instead. That episode isn’t online yet, but I’ll link to it when it is.

iss success

Conditions were perfect for watching last night’s overhead pass of the ISS, and I got a great view of it through my telescope. I think it could’ve been better, though — I used my 13mm Nagler eyepiece, so the magnification was perhaps a little high, which made tracking the ISS as it (very quickly) moved through the field of view very difficult. Even when I did get it in view and keep it there for a bit, it was still moving so fast across the field that it was all a bit of a blur. Next time, I think I’ll stick with my less powerful 21mm Stratus eyepiece, which should make it easier to both track the ISS, and to hold it still long enough to make out some good detail.

Speaking of next time, there’s actually another really good pass tomorrow night (the 4th), starting about 9:08pm. Here’s hoping today’s clouds have disappeared by then!

iss overhead tonight!

It’s a beautifully clear day outside today, and if it stays that way, I’ll be watching the ISS pass overhead tonight. The ISS passes overhead fairly often, but tonight’s showing is going to be particularly good, since it’s at a nice, easy viewing time (around 10pm), and it’ll be riding very high up in the sky, so it’ll be a great sight.

If you’re in Melbourne, and you want to check it out, head outside at 9:58PM and look north-west — you should very soon see a bright dot, climbing steadily up in to the sky, and growing brighter as it does. It’ll reach its highest point in the sky at 10:01, in the south-west, and then head back down to set in the south-east at 10:04. If you have a small telescope, or even binoculars, you should be able to make out some structure. Tracking it in a telescope will require quick movements, though!

If you miss tonight’s pass, you can get a list of other upcoming passes at Heavens Above.

dabbling in podcasting, and studio upgrades

Given that I record my music entirely under Linux, I was very happy to hear of the Open Source Musician Podcast; so much so that I’ve already contributed my own segment to the show. In the recently-released episode 26, I discuss the equipment (hardware and software) I use to record my music, as well as the workflow involved.

In other news, I got an awesome new studio toy on the weekend — I replaced my Singstar mic with a Rode NT1-A condenser mic. While I’ve only had a brief chance to play with it, it sounds very clean and clear, so it’s a revelation compared to the hissy, muddy mess that I got with my old mic. It also came with a shock-mount and pop shield, so it looks très professional in my mic stand: