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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fixing the buzz in my M-Audio AV-40 speakers

A couple of nights ago, I woke to the sound of my UPS going "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE." I stumbled out of bed, shut down my computer, hit the reset button on the UPS, and went back to sleep. The next morning, I discovered evidence of gremlins. My computer was being weird instead of booting up ("whirrrrr ... whirrrrr ... whirrrr"), which was solved by a tip from Matt: unplug all the USB devices. I don't really understand the bug, but the fix worked. (Maybe I should have fewer than eleventy billion USB devices connected to my computer at all times? Nah.)

To my dismay, a secondary problem presented itself: my speakers were buzzing. They continued to buzz after switching them off and on again, removing the input, plugging them into another outlet, and smacking them around a few times. A quick Google pointed to a solution: replace four stupid bulging piece-of-shit capacitors.

How annoying. Lucky for me, I am really good at soldering. No, really, it's my superpower. Things I enjoy soldering include copper plumbing pipe and Theremins.

Here are the replacement capacitors, purchased from Mouser Electronics, which is a pretty great website where I could probably get very lost if I were a soldering Ph.D.:

I am kind of quirky when it comes to my soldering talent. I like to solder on the floor, and my favorite soldering iron is a desoldering iron, which I use to both desolder and solder. That little puff bladder gives me more control.

Here are some progress shots.

Matt's action shot. I can't take my own pictures of myself soldering because it requires both hands and sometimes my mouth.

The dumb capacitors have been desoldered, and I am inserting the new capacitors into the vacated holes.

Snipping the leads.

Applying the deadly flux.

When I built my Theremin, I gave myself a mild case of flux poisoning, so these days I am careful to breathe in as little of the delicious flux smoke as possible.

And hey, look at that, I fixed them. No more buzz. I've also headed off the possibility of any one of these capacitors randomly exploding and barfing all over the circuit board, ruining everything. That happens sometimes. Just ask Matt, who lost his AV-30s to exploding capacitors.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Fonty font font

Matt has been very hard at work coding the back end (hurr hurr) of my new website, which will hooooopefully be all up and running soon. I'm going to be able to control database information SO much more easily than before (was using phpMyAdmin, blecch). The coolest thing about the front end is that the navigation for my compositions is going to kick arse, and each composition page will have a lot more information. The whole site will also be more streamlined and navigable, and the color scheme matches my physical office (as on this blog). That last part doesn't really affect you, but it makes sense to me, because I'm bored of the vanilla white and light grey thing.

One of the details I am wrestling with today is my go-to font for titles, which I also use for what I call the "Mormolyke Press stamp":

I originally picked it years ago without looking at the font's name, which turned out to be "Arabic Typesetting." Wait a minute ... does that mean..? Yes, it does: it's actually an Arabic font that happens to have Latin letters. It also ships with Windows, so I have no idea if Macs have anything similar. No matter, I figured; I only use it on stationery and header images, not as a web font.

During this website overhaul, however, I started looking into it a little more closely; is there a similar (Latin-specific) font? It looks a little like Garamond or (more closely) Iowan Old Style, but my favorite thing about Arabic Typesetting is the proportions, and those fonts looks all fat and dopey by comparison. It turns out that, according to the Microsoft page about the font:
[t]he Arabic glyphs are accompanied by Latin letters designed to achieve a balance of color, weight and proportion between the two scripts. Typically, the trend in co-ordinating Arabic and Latin types has been to unhappily force the Arabic to match the proportions of the Latin. In this font, lik [sic]
Annoyingly, the description cuts off there, and I can't find the rest of it anywhere. But I guess the conclusion I can draw is that the proportions of "Naskh-style" Arabic script are very pretty to me, and I want a Latin Roman type that mirrors them. This is tricky, and I am fussy.

Anyhow, back to it.