Diving Monterey Bay

October 11th, 2005

After years of talking about doing it, my friend, Mike, and I finally managed to take a dip into the waters of Monterey Bay. This was a first for both of us. It’s been a few years since I had scuba dived, and for me this was my first shore entry. This was also the first time I had to use a full body wetsuit. Mike, on the other hand, is a pretty experienced diver and worked with the coast guard. You can’t ask for a better dive partner than that! The day was perfect. Monterey Bay was calm, the water was glassy, and the fog had lifted by the time we rented our gear and hit the beach. Sounds like it would be a great day for a dive, but that’s where the day started going horribly wrong.

I have to admit, that I’ve been spoiled with my experiences with boat dives in the tropics, and I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of effort involved with carrying weights, tanks, and all of the apparatus a few hundred yards from the truck to the beach. By the time we were suited up and in the water, I was pretty exhausted. My inexperience with cold water also took it’s toll, and the shock of the water temperature (50°F/10°c) took it’s toll and my respiration shot up. We managed to work our way out to the kelp beds, and prepared to descend. Loaded down with 30+ lbs of weight, a massive tank and a fullbody wetsuit, should have made sinking pretty easy, but both of us would attempt to go down, and would simply float back up. As I later discovered, there’s a strata of high salinity on the top of bay waters. Eventually we managed to get the hang of descending with a kick start. Actually, i was suprised that the water temperature was quite comfortable, and not as cold as I had imagined.


Mike and I made it down to the _Dangerous_ depths of about 20 feet (woo!) and started to see the sandy shelf covered with star fish and various creatures that zipped around between little holes like mini Dune-ish worms. The new problem was the limited visibility. We could only see about a meter, and we had to stay in arms reach which made it difficult to maneuver about and explore. Even Mike with his experience wasn’t too comfortable diving blind, and there’s no fun in not being able to see anything interesting if you dive. I came across a cute little jelly fish on my ascent, but other than that, I didn’t see much.

By the time we got back to shore, I was spent. We had to fight a bit of an undertow to get back on the beach, and in the process I lost my mask. That ended the day. Despite having only gone through 70% of one tank, we were out in the bay for a few hours, and it seemed worth the effort, but there was no way I could do a second dive.

At least I can say that i’ve done it now. I’m not against trying it again, but next time I think I will opt for a boat dive with an experienced crew who know where to go see interesting things - with better visibility.

Site V4.0 progress

October 9th, 2005

After numerous tries, everything is almost finished with the site templates running on Wordpress.Thanks to Hami and others who have given me a crash course in CSS and tweaking WP, things have come together faster than i imagined.

I’m still dealing with the issue of the messageboard. I’ve set up the DC script template page with hacks of the page elements from the wordpress pages, but it’s pretty brutal. In an effort to get everything working properly, I’ve put the site online to see how it will function with the messageboard. This will be a temporary situation to see how it works. I might need to upgrade to the PHP version of the board from dcscripts.

The other concern is the IE6 for windows incompatibility with png images. There is only one instance of a png employed on the site, but it’s for the main logo on the masthead. I tried to gif it, but it looked horrible due to the slight alpha channel shadow. What’s worse, something in the stylesheet really tweaks out rendering. I can live with the funky image, but the bad formatting is unacceptable.

The rotating masthead concept seemed cool at first, but the images reload on each page-it slows down the page rendering process. I’m still deciding whether or not this should remain. The rotating image script is from Matt Mullenweg. Despite the time factor, it is cool to see the pages change :-)

Visit to Electronic Arts

October 3rd, 2005

I took a little trip today to visit my friend, Rich who works at Electronic Arts for a game team that developed the upcoming James Bond title. The game is done and is getting ready for X-mas release, so he’s got a bit of downtime to recover from the months of work.

Rich gave me the quick tour of the EA campus and the audio facilities. They have a couple of nice rooms for editing and recording, but for the most part, the audio guys have workstations (more like coat rooms) where they edit and program cues. He showed me the game and the tools used to develop the sound cues and loops, along with the really cool surround pan/virtual microphone system as well as a game world sound placement application. It’s really quite amazing how the game takes bits of the orchestral soundtrack material that loop until different events occurred in the game. After seeing the editing application, i’ve found a new respect for the people who slave for hours over this tedious task.

I saw some interesting things including the Microsoft Xbox Devkits which are really G5 Towers as well as the debug units which display processed events as the game progresses. The game definitely looks great, and it’s cool to hear the voiceovers from Sean Connery!

Triptronic TL Series Combis

October 2nd, 2005

I’ve finally finished up the second longer Triptronic TL24 Combinator patch along with a few example files and posted them up on the Reason Files pages.

These effects are tape loop configurations that emulate a technique of a long tape loop setup concocted by Brian Eno and used extensively by Robert Fripp, commonly called “Frippertronics.” These are intended for experimental ambient loop sampling, so synchronization is not enabled – it’s about generating an unconventional looping vibe.

The effect patches are limited to a maximum of eight seconds (TL8) and 24 seconds (TL24), by using ganged pairs of DDL-1 Digital delay lines. Extra delay lines can be inserted in the chain to extend the delay time, and modulation routings should be assigned to delay time and enable parameters. The Delay Lines are paired to create a stereo signal path, and pan modulation of the incoming signal adds an interesting motion characteristic.

TL Series Control Parameters

DELAY TIME control universally controls the delay time of all four delay lines, so delay time is a factor of 4. Delay time ranges from 4 milliseconds to 8000 milliseconds with the TL8 and from 24ms to 24 seconds with the TL24. Changing Delay time will create pitch shift artifacts, but this setting should be set before feeding the patch signals.

RECORD LEVEL controls the feedback level from the last delay output feeding into first delay line.

MONITOR LEVEL controls a dry level that passes through the effect. If the patch is connected as a send effect, this control should be set to zero.

TAPE SPEED is a fidelity control that filters off frequency range using a Scream 4 Tape Saturation algorithm. This parameter is only available in “Tape” mode. This control also modulates the TAPE HISS generator.

STOP DELAY Switch immediately shuts down the delay devices and feedback loop. This button resets the sample loop.

DIGITAL TAPE Switch toggles between a clean, purely digital sample loop signal and an effected “Tape” simulation sample loop signal.

COMPRESSION Switch changes the Compression amount when the TL8 is in “Tape” mode. Disabled is a low compression setting, and enabled is a moderate compression setting.

TAPE HISS Switch enables the noise generator that simulates tape hiss. A SubTractor Synthesizer perpetually generates a low-level noise signal that combines with input signals and feeds back through the loop circuit. The Tape Speed rotary control will shapes the noise characteristics.

Content Management Confusion

September 29th, 2005

I’ve been looking into updating the website with a content management system (CMS) that would simplify the work on my end, but integrate fairly seamlessly with the old site design. This task has been a lot more confusing than anything else. I’ve been working in HTML for so many years, that I’ve developed a method of working which involves formatting, layout, and writing all at the same time. With these blog applications, it seems like you have to work in pieces adding the text, then images along predefined layouts. Of course, i know very little about CSS and PHP, so this task is going to be a lot more work than simply adding content to static pages.

So far Wordpress has been the fastest, but it is primarily a blogging application which will work great for part of the site. I’m just having a hard time figuring out how to devise a system for the downloads that feels like the V3 system which relies mainly on tables. I know it’s possible, but it will take awhile to learn all of this new stuff.

I like the flexibility of Textpattern, but it is slow by comparison to WP. There are other CMS systems available, but I do want something that is really efficient. I hear Adobe released Cold Fusion for Xserve. This might be a cool option should i decide to get a new server.

Reason 3.0 US Tour

September 23rd, 2005

Last night i caught the Reason 3.0 US tour at the Guitar Center in San Francisco where i had a chance to meet with Timothy Self (Propellerhead Director of US Markets) and Hayden Bursk, Propellerhead Reason Product Specialist with Line 6, who is touring the states and spreading the gospel of Reason. Hayden is getting ready for a big tour for Line 6 and Propellerheads. Line 6 will be showing Reason at AES in New York, as well. I thought I might go to the Fall AES show this year, but chances are that i can’t make it…

Line 6 Tone Port

September 23rd, 2005

Line 6 is introducing a new USB audio interface called the TonePort, which I also had the chance to see at the Reason 3.0 demo at GC. It’s more than just an audio interface because it features mic and instrument inputs which can be directed through some amplifier and microphone simulator plugins that emulate some of the classics.

After the Reason demo, Hayden grabbed a guitar (afterall it was “Guitar Center”) and plugged it in to give us a demo of the amp and distortion effect simulators. For the price ($129) including the software this is a killer deal. It’s worth it for audio interface alone!