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Archived news items from September 2003
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Tuesday, 30 September 2003 [23:59 CDT]

  1. Without preservatives and other fancy chemicals, fruit will go bad between visits to the grocery store. People used to shop frequently enough that this wasn't an issue.

  2. Fruit used to be both easier to find and cheaper than prefabricated confections like Twinkies or candy bars. And much easier than baking yourself.

Is it any wonder folks don't eat enough produce anymore?

Thursday, 25 September 2003 [21:24 CDT]

Believe it or not, I've continued to keep up with my grading. Of course, two weeks isn't enough to call this a "new leaf", but I've been pleased. Was up pretty late last night finishing a test for CS-1, but otherwise my evenings have been my own. And with tomorrow being the last day of the six weeks, I'll be able to turn in my grades way early.

Some of you know that I've been bidding on a drum machine on eBay for quite some time; since Christmas or so, I've been trying to win an Alesis SR-16. Well, my ship finally came in, and for $101.35, one in nearly-new condition with original box, manual and power adapter was mailed to me from Wisconsin.

I've had a chance to play with it just a little, and it looks like a good workhorse that I could get some good use out of. It has lots of nice drum sounds built-in, and even has some features that make it fairly suitable for using in a live setting. So one day we'll have to have the drum machine on our rotation at Lakeline. Just for fun, anyway.

So with the drum machine, and my newfound ability to record digital audio directly on my computer, the only thing preventing me from self-recording an album of my own material is that I don't have any material!

Oh, and on Monday I got a baby name submission from Nick Tokarchik; man, I haven't heard from you or Allison in a long time. Email me and let me know how you're doing. And thanks for the suggestion!

Saturday, 20 September 2003 [23:11 CDT]

I'm pretty sure this has never happened in my entire teaching career, but inspired by being caught up with grading last weekend, I actually stayed caught up all week! The assignments students turned in on Monday I graded Monday afternoon! The assignments students turned in on Tuesday I graded Tuesday afternoon! And so on, each day this week! Perhaps I should check my temperature, 'cause I'm on fire!

Anyway, it was very odd to go home this weekend and have no grading hanging over my head. So I walked out to the park for an hour or so and paced around talking to myself planning out the long-promised "karma" rewrite of my jukebox. (There wasn't anyone else at the park to notice my mutterings, I should add.)

Then upon returning home I started coding and got a good portion done before I turned in for the night near midnight. I slept in this morning and got back to work on it and had the brunt of the functionality done by early afternoon. I haven't actually written the utilities that will make it go on the live server, but with all the modules I've got written, they'll be short work. In fact, getting them to run will probably be the trickiest part.

One I knew the karma system was working, I turned my attention to the next most important part: how to get the karma values to begin with. (Because a perfectly-functioning system to play music based on user preference isn't much good if you can't actually feed it with real preferences.) I've been thinking on it, but I haven't made up my mind enough to start coding yet. Maybe tomorrow afternoon I'll take another walk.

This week David is leading worship for me. He's the driving force behind Point of Contact and long-time lead guitarist at Lakeline, and we've recently decided that he and I are going to trade off leading worship, with him on two weeks and me on two weeks. This week I'm singing harmony vocals for him, but not playing guitar. And that's a rare thing for me.

I played around with Audacity again and laid down the guitar part, melody and the other guy's harmony for two of the songs we're doing tomorrow so I could practice singing the second harmony part. It's pretty quick to just slap down something like that, especially if you don't care so much about little mess-ups (that is, you're not trying to record a distribution-quality demo).

Been getting lots of names for my future neice/nephew, so keep it up.

Sunday, 14 September 2003 [15:51 CDT]

Today's Foxtrot will be funny to my CS-3 kids:

That is all.

Sunday, 14 September 2003 [01:30 CDT]

Actually late Saturday night....

So far this weekend has been surprisingly productive. I've been behind on grading since the year started, and even missed getting my progress reports out because of it. Well, I promised myself I wouldn't do anything entertaining this weekend until my grading was done.

So Friday evening I spent a few hours grading all the year's assignments for my two CS-1 classes and my single section of Web Programming (formerly Webmastering). And this morning I graded the year's assignments for my two CS-2 classes.

Starting this afternoon I resumed coding something I'd begun in December but only got about 20% of the way through: a web form for adding new albums to Voter. This has been on my TODO list for way too long, and I finally got it done. Well, mostly anyway.

Entering full lyrics and stuff for an entire album is a lengthy process, and right now the form doesn't allow you to save your progress at any point; it's all in one go or nothing. But it's trivially easy to allow saving at intermediate points, and probably not too much harder to be able to reload and resume later. So if I get some free time tomorrow, I may take a look at doing that. (And since I'm caught up on grading for a change, I can do it with a clear conscience.)

Or, I may play around with recording multi-track audio on my computer. I bought a tape-based 4-track mixer several years ago, but haven't used it much. Partially it's because it's a bit of a hassle to dig it out and get it set up. Part of it is because it uses cassette tapes, which aren't the greatest quality (there's a lot of hiss, for example). Part of it is because it can only handle four tracks. And part of it is because mixing it down to an audio track on my computer is hard.

Well, I've been doing more and more with Audacity, a nice free sound editor available for Linux (and other operating systems, too). Besides sound editing, it's kind of designed to work as a simple multitrack mixer, and now that I'm pretty comfortable with using it for other things, I'm going to give its recording capabilities a try.

On the way home from work Friday I dropped by Radio Shack to pick up a cable so that I can plug my guitar or microphone directly into the line input of my sound card. I would have tested it out by now, but I'd promised myself I'd get my grading done first, and then today I've been writing that album submission program.

Part of this is spurred by the realization that Audacity has a menu option to generate a click track: you simple give it the tempo, the number of beats per measure, and the number of measures desired and it churns out a mono, CD-quality track of metronome noises in just a couple of seconds. That, my faithful readers, is cool.

Anyway, I'm up too late, since I've got church in the morning, but I spent about eight hours working on that program, which runs pretty late into the evening if you don't start until after noon.

Thursday, 11 September 2003 [22:36 CDT]

I should mention that as of September 1st, we went live with the new version of Lakeline's web page, that I'd been working on quite a bit in July and August. It's a great improvement over the old site, so check it out! Basically I wrote the shell and stylesheet. All the other content is from others.

Monday, 8 September 2003 [00:36 CDT]

Actually late Sunday night....

I just got back from The Vibe, where I got to watch Point of Contact win the final round of Battle of the Bands! The played a great show, and this win earns them 20 hours of recording time, $500, and a submission to Epic Records!

Amazing that the very same guitarist and bassist were playing Caedmon's Call's Bus Driver behind me at church earlier this morning.

Well, I don't want this to become another late Sunday night like last week, and I do plan on going to my Bible study at 6:00 in the morning, so I'm going to head to my bed for sleepytime.

Things are starting to settle into a routine at school, and Voter is finally mostly working (other than blacklisting songs), after several false starts during the last week. You know things aren't going well when you spend an hour or so hacking together a script for /etc/rc.d/init.d/ so you can more easily stop and restart a misbehaving daemon. But it does seem to be working properly now as far as I can tell. Anyway, to bed I go.

Tuesday, 2 September 2003 [23:54 CDT]

Other than staying up late Sunday night playing poker and talking with friends, pretty much all I did this weekend was code on Voter. Little improvements are coming fast and furious.

I did even more coding and fixing today, cleaned up the interface a touch, scanned sixteen album covers I couldn't find on the Internet, and uploaded six new albums.

I have 21 more albums to upload, which I'll do over the next couple of weeks.

Now if I can go the whole way and get it running on karma values rather than having to have fresh votes every time, I'll be in business. And the kids will be happier, because 162 albums is a lot to sort through every period.

Don't forget to vote for the newly-added baby names; the response has been excellent so far!

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