June 2009

The Death of Spring and Celebrities

This is probably the first post in quite sometime that isn’t the summary to some outing. I figured I would write an entry before the weekend to mention a couple things.Work has been droning on as normal with a little dose of melodrama. A couple weeks ago we started opening the office on Mondays with doctor’s hours which generally is working out so far and is relieving the patient load on Wednesdays. Yesterday was the first full eight hour day I’ve worked in a while. Dad and I left the house earlier than usual so he could take Mom to the airport. She is going to Florida for a few days to visit her sister.Over the last couple weeks, spring came to an abrupt end with increasingly hot temperatures. Yesterday was the hottest day on record ever in New Orleans with temperatures reaching 104 degrees. This morning, Dad took me to Moldaner’s Camera on Maple Street to pick up some film I dropped off last Friday. I had a roll of black and white film I shot years ago developed and I had some film negatives from my high school graduation scanned. Afterward we had lunch at Camellia Grill. I had an omlette and dad had hot sausage on bun. Later this evening after work I fooled with my “new” pictures and watched Deconstructing Harry.Today also completed another unfortunate celebrity death trifecta. Ed McMahon died earlier this week and then today, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passed away. The first two were not exactly surprising but the death of the king of pop was pretty shocking to me… maybe just because I never really followed him. In any event, I suspect the media circus that started today and will no doubt continue is going to be more depressing than his death.

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City Zoo and DJ Soul Sister

On Saturday evening, I met Andrey, Patrick and David at the Woodward Loft Apartments. Jeff was home for the weekend and happened to be going out so he offered a ride. Apparently this was a birthday party for somebody. The only connection any of us had to anyone there was that Andrey was very loosely acquainted with the drummer in one of the two local bands that was performing. The bands were interesting if nothing else and there was all the beer you could drink for five bucks.After an hour or so at the rooftop party we drove to a little place called Mimi’s in the Marigny where DJ Soul Sister who has gigs there regularly and specializes in “deep funk and rare grooves.” The music was quite good but I was up to attempting to dance. I think we were there for an hour and half before heading out. Afterward we made the traditional Rally’s run and went to Andrey’s house. At some point the conversation necessitated we watch American Pie although we weren’t there long enough to see all of it… pity.

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New Sound

As I mentioned in the last entry, I’ve been spending time lately on the audio components for my computer. When I haven’t been fooling with new toys I’ve been reading about them online. This past Thursday, my new Audioengine speakers arrived in the mail. I set them up on my desk and the sounded great out of the box. They are light years ahead of my old Logitech set. The clarity and soundstage of these speakers is awesome. Supposedly they will sound even better after they’ve been broken in a bit. The only shortcoming is the lack of a subwoofer. The speakers handle lows quite well considering their size but they don’t really cut it for video games where things are exploding all around you. Most of my usage is music though so I suspect it will be a while before I feel compelled to add a subwoofer to the mix.On Saturday, I received the E-MU 0404 USB I won on eBay. It’s an external audio/MIDI interface to replace my current sound card. Removing the audio circuitry from the computer case eliminates electrical noise issues and in general should serve as a far better source for my new speakers. This particular unit offers a very good DAC for the money and a headphone amp that drives my Sennheiser HD-595 headphones satisfactorily. Generally speaking I’m pretty happy with it although I have some mild functionality issues I haven’t figures out yet. This afternoon I cleaned, photographed and packed my old Logitech speakers and listed then on Craigslist. I’ve never sold anything through the site but as the whole set and packaging weights 43 pounds, putting it up on eBay was an unappealing prospect.Saturday evening, I met Andrey, Patrick and David at d.b.a. Apparently there was supposed to be a larger contingent but only the usual suspects showed. One of them brought a deck of cards and we played a few rounds of Tien Len, which was commonly played when Andrey and I attended Edna Karr. I had to relearn the game but it’s not difficult. I didn’t win any rounds although I was nearly always first loser. We remained there until nearly 11, almost an hour after the Zydepunks were scheduled to start their set. We elected not to wait any longer and venture elsewhere. We walked down the street a bit to Cafe Negril where a band was playing. They were good although I have no idea who they were. After a few numbers we departed. Patrick had driven the other and we went in his car. We stopped at Rally’s per “tradition” although none of us had nearly enough to drink to make it “necessary.” Fries in hand we went to Andrey’s house. Automobiles dominated the conversation as they often do when Andrey is present. I got a cab home after one.I slept in on Sunday. I only had a couple bites for my old speakers and I contacted the person who made the best offer. He picked them up after five this afternoon. Not long after that I noticed the memory card reader on my computer was not working. As I was planning on removing my old sound card eventually anyway I used the issue as an excuse to pull out the case and clean inside while affecting necessary adjustments. It occurred to me when I removed my X-Fi card that I would be losing the ability to output HDMI with audio, although I had not really used the feature anyway. Later this evening I worked on a design for some speaker stands that would fit my new speakers alongside my monitors.

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Three for Three

Regrettably, I’ve let the week go by without an entry, passing at least a couple of days deserving their own posts. Outside of work, a lot of my time has been spent with one thing or another taken apart on my desk.On Wednesday, maybe, a flip clock I won on eBay arrived. The latest addition to my collection, a Panasonic RC-7053, is in good shape although it was more than somewhat dirty. It’s an interesting model and includes a day of week indicator. The main neon illumination bulb was bad so I harvested one from a broken clock I have on hand and installed it without incident. After a couple hours work I had the clock looking great.Yesterday, a non-functional laptop I bought out of curiosity arrived. It is a Sony VAIO QR20, a nine year-old novelty that featured a carrying handle. It was packed rather poorly but arrived well enough. Like the notebook I fixed earlier this week there was nothing visibly wrong with it, but I hard to rebuild it and add RAM and a hard drive. I ran out of spare laptop drives and had to pull the drive from my first MP3 player, an Archos Jukebox 20.Once I confirmed it was functional I started cleaning each component. The cosmetic condition of the computer was pretty good but it was quite dirty. It appeared it was used as a place mat by the previous owner with little bits of food everywhere, even inside the casing. The keyboard was especially filthy. I spent several hours completely disassembling the laptop including the LCD bezel and cleaning each component individually before reassembling the laptop. Later I installed Windows XP and searched for the drivers for this model. I am still trying to get the hotkeys and jogdial to work.Today my handiwork with a screwdriver was much simpler. I accompanied Mom to Harry’s Ace Hardware to buy potting soil and some other odds and ends. We left the store with a mailbox for the house. It has been in need of replacement for quite some time but only now did she find a suitable replacement. I mounted it when we got home. Later in the afternoon I installed a mini-pci Wi-Fi card I ordered for my recently resurrected ThinkPad. I thought I was buying an IBM “authorized” card but I had to use the no-1802 fix to make it work.Later this evening I decided to pull the trigger on some new speakers for my computer. I’ve been spending time these past couple weeks reading about speakers, amps, headphones, DACs, etcetera. I’ve been less than content with my current Logitech Z-5300e 5.1 speaker setup. Most of my usage is music which only utilizes 2 of the five speakers I have and I have never been able to properly position the rear channel speakers anyway. I considered purchasing some passive bookshelf speakers and an amplifier but ultimately decided on a simpler arrangement. Tonight I ordered the Audioengine A5 powered bookshelf speakers, which apparently sound incredible for their size and price point. Later on I may purchase an USB Digital/Analog Converter and an amplifier to power my Sennheiser headphones and perhaps a future set of passive speakers.

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