Friday, December 23, 2011


Would you allow giant corporations to run a pipeline into your brain?

All of the technological optimism that the early television movement was fraught with has been entirely overcome by the inevitable implications of the one-to-many broadcast model.  This was not seen at first because the model that television was compared to was that of radio, a medium which required imagination in its audience.  In fact, radio eventually succumbed to centralization by giant corporate conglomerates as it would have even in the absence of television.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An excellent CD Player that you can still find for cheap

The Aiwa XC-37M (and the earlier XC-35M) CD Changer is outstanding.  The Illinois Audio Society wrote that using its digital output it was the equal of the best CD player they had tested.   I will add that using its own normal analog outputs, it sounds very seriously good.  Not at all what you'd expect from an inexpensive changer.  You can still find these new, on eBay, for around $50.00.  The only downside I've heard anyone mention is that the status display and the play indicator LED blink during play.   If you listen in the dark, you might want to put tape over them.

The Way it Sounded

Album: "In the Court of the Crimson King"
Mix: 2009 new stereo mixdown by Robert Fripp and Steven Wilson 
Pressing: Discipline Global Mobile (DGM) Red Book standard audio CD  "40th Anniversary Edition"

This must be the way it sounded in 1969.  It's absolutely awesome.  I
do not use that word lightly.  This is on a whole different plane than
the "remastered" Emerson Lake and Palmer discs.  This is a labor of
love and it shows all over.  Every instrument has been brought out of
the murk and given its rightful place.  If there was a second flute
track, it's been moved-over in the stereo image so you can appreciate
it more.  This is a recording that has been loved.  Very Carefully.

Actually, it's better than it sounded in the control room, on 1969
control room monitors.  They never got to hear the subtlest details latent
on the tape.  And there's no tape noise.  No wow or flutter, no phase
problems.  It is better than being there in 1969.  And you can do it
at home for cheap.  This is better than time travel.

Fripp says:

The original Wessex recording was on 8-track. This necessitated several sub-mixes; such as drums, bass guitar, piano & acoustic guitar on one stereo pair and all the mellotrons on another. These stereo sub-mixes were then mixed down to the original stereo master; the final master took another generation, to allow for cross-fades; and production masters went another generation. The original stereo master was lost for decades, found by Simon Heyworth in a pile of KC tapes from the Virgin tape store, and until recently was the best master available.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This is huge: CoffeeScript becomes the default Javascript in Ruby on Rails 3.1

You will be hearing more about the CoffeeScript language now that the popular web-framework Ruby on Rails has adopted it as the default Javascript for their next release.   This is a huge event in the life of a little language that is just over a year old.  The V1.0 release was in December of 2010.

I adopted CoffeeScript as my language of choice somewhere in mid 2010.  It has the deep elegances of Ruby, including introspection.  It uses the indentation-based block structure that makes Python such a pleasure.  It's basically a mashup of my two favorite languages and it targets an almost ideal runtime: Javascript.  CoffeeScript is a self-hosting compiler that emits Javascript, so your code can run in a browser, or on NodeJS as a command-line server side language like Ruby or Python.  It's fast.  NodeJS is a port of Google's V8 Javascript engine into a POSIX framework.

CoffeeScript is one of those tools that is just beautiful in its simplicity.  It's pleasing to the eye, powerful, and easy to wield.

Some Details about the new features in Rails 3.1
Intro to CoffeeScript

Thursday, January 6, 2011

ThinkOrSwim Trading Platform runs on Linux!

When I reactivated my trading account at TDAmeritrade, I found that they had bought ThinkOrSwim, which becomes their high-end trading platform.   They don't mention this, but if you click to download it and you are on a Unix-ish OS, the download you receive is a shell script which checks for a JVM and installs the code.   The shell script which launches the program is quite robust-looking. Unlike most heavily-multithreaded Java programs I've used, it doesn't feel sluggish.  I'm impressed.

This is extremely nice and it will probably woo me away from QuoteTracker, which is a Windows-native application.  QuoteTracker is a good tool, and is great for learning.  It has an ad-supported Free-as-in-beer mode.  TDAmeritrade had some agreement with them, and QuoteTracker is still (I tested it) ad-free if you are connected to TDAmeritrade, but the download link is broken and they seem to have stopped supporting it.

I don't have to boot Windows, even in a VM, just to have decent trading tools.  This is really outstanding.

The one issue I am finding with ThinkOrSwim is a lack of good documentation.  I've only found a poorly-written and unillustrated manual so far.  It's completely clear that it does everything QuoteTracker does and much more. No wonder TDAmeritrade wants to get you started with it via a hand-holding phone call.  I haven't received my call yet.