Studio stasis

2021/10/21 12:19 AM 6 hours ago

For now I’m just going to stick with my 2016 MacBook Pro, and I bought a 27" 4K monitor for it to alleviate the display-size issue.

It’s a little slow and a little janky but a lot of my music stuff still doesn’t work right on M1 anyway, and in particular Native Instruments is taking their sweet time to update everything to be M1-compatible. Also, I could theoretically use my PreSonus FireStudio with the hacked driver, although it looks like that’ll probably stop working in macOS 12 and I can’t use it with my ADAT preamp anyway, so the only advantage to it is I could put my Scarlett 18i8 back in my office, which is a pretty low priority now.

(I suppose I could also make an aggregate interface of the FireStudio with the 18i8+ADAT, but I already have 14 functional inputs as it is and I barely ever use more than 5 of them at a time. 22 is definitely overkill.)

If I get desperate for an upgrade I suppose I could get a current 27" iMac but that doesn’t feel particularly necessary right now (and it also feels like a waste since Apple will stop supporting it sooner rather than later; I went through the exact same thing with the PowerMac G5 that I bought literally two weeks before they announced the Intel transition).

I also need to give both Reaper and Bitwig another shot because both of them seem like they’d be able to mostly replace Logic for me at this point, and I’m sick of being wedded to macOS. (But right now is not the time for me to learn a new DAW. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. I dunno.)

Or maybe I should see what the pre-trashcan Mac Pros are going for. The 12-core model would still be a pretty decent upgrade from the 2016 MacBook pro, and also has the advantage of having upgradeable SATA storage, plus PCIe slots that could theoretically take an NVMe adapter. On the minus side, no Thunderbolt 3 (not that I’d need it) and I’d also be stuck on macOS 10.14 without some sketchy patching. But it looks like they’re going for under $400 (shipping included), all the same.

Or there’s always Hackintosh.

But nah I’ll wait, the old MacBook Pro is fine for now.

The unfortunate reality of Apple’s product focus

2021/10/18 12:25 PM 2 days ago

Today’s Apple announcement brought forth the usual advancements that I was looking forward to: faster processors, better GPUs, and so on.

But Apple has this hyperfocus on making The Best Laptops Possible, which is a little puzzling when the entire focus of today’s update was on creative studio uses, especially on music.

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Authl update → login reset

2021/10/14 10:52 PM 6 days ago

I made a change to Authl which more or less necessitated resetting everyone’s login.

I mean, it only really necessitated resetting the logins of folks who sign in via Twitter, but the way Publ authentication works (or at least the way I have it set up on my site) means I can’t reset just an individual session.

Also it didn’t really require a full login reset but it would have been confusing for some folks for some amount of time, so I figured better safe than sorry. “Oops I need to log in again” is a lot less difficult to deal with than “it says I’m logged in, did fluffy remove me from their friends list or something? what did i do wrong :( :( :(”

This also means that all bearer tokens have been reset, so if you were doing something with those you’ll need to generate a new one (either from your profile or via TicketAuth). Of course you automatically get a TicketAuth grant when you sign in anyway, so if you’re using TicketAuth I guess there’s nothing extra you need to do to begin with.

Update: haha I forgot to actually push this entry until like 4 days later oops. well okay have an explanation if you were wondering

Bitforte: A masterclass in scamming

2021/10/12 12:16 AM a week ago

Earlier today I got an obvious scam email:

Return-Path: <no-reply@[redacted]>
Subject: Bitcoin Payment
To: Recipients <no-reply@[redacted]>
From: "Mr. Neves N" <no-reply@[redacted]>
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2021 19:10:52 +0900

Hi Rob Hoffman, As requested, we have now deposited 30 BTC which amount to
($1,692,796.80 USD) into your bitcoin portfolio at bitforte.net/signin
 Customer Id: [redacted]
Customer Password: [redacted]

I was curious to see how this scam worked, so I fired up my favorite anonymizing VPN and private browser session and went to town.

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Creative Commons, summarized

2021/10/08 11:39 AM 2 weeks ago

The Creative Commons initiative has been incredibly transformative for how people make things, and has been a huge boon to content creators the world around.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of confusion around what they are and how they work. I see some very common mistakes with using them, both from creators and from users, especially in the game development and YouTube communities.

My hope is to clear some of these misunderstandings up.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I’m just an enthusiast about copyright law. This is also not an exhaustive guide by any means.

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Garbage opinions

2021/10/07 10:56 AM 2 weeks ago

Today I got a market research survey from the garbage company which wanted to know my opinions about how valued I feel as a customer. One of the questions was a 1-10 scale of whether I’m “disappointed” or “delighted” with the service, and a text form where they wanted details for why I gave the rating I did. I had a lot to say, and I’m posting it here just so that it actually gets read by someone.

Never mind that the only reason I use you is that you have a local monopoly on waste management services, I am continually frustrated by how your workers will often skip my home, or will knock over the trash can and then not pick it back up or empty it out. Also, it would be great if you could institute a system where it’s paid by weight rather than container size; my garbage output varies widely from week to week and my bins are usually just half-full, but with just enough trash that going to the lower tier size wouldn’t be sufficient. Having it be based on actual weight of pickup would be a lot more fair.

It’d also be great if you’d partner with Styro Recycle to offer styrofoam recycling; right now my choices are either to drive to Kent (which is wasteful) or to put styrofoam in the trash (which is wasteful). In a perfect world things wouldn’t be packaged in styrofoam to begin with but that’s not something I, as a consumer, have control over.

My (current) coffee station

2021/10/07 12:59 AM 2 weeks ago
IMG_3534.jpeg

For the last few months (since mid-July) I’ve been going through a lot of upgrades and troubleshooting on my coffee setup, especially as far as espresso is involved. I’m finally at the point where I’m happy with both the equipment and technique I have… or at least I think I am.

Here are the products I currently use, and the techniques I’ve found to get the most out of them. As usual, I have affiliate links for many of the products on display, but feel free to search for the best deal or the vendors you prefer.

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Current goings-on

2021/10/05 11:39 AM 2 weeks ago

Huh, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog entry. So let’s do some catch-up to the present, I guess.

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Songs of Substance

2021/10/01 12:00 AM 2 weeks ago

ESE pod review: Caffe Pompeii Circe 100% Arabica

2021/09/25 6:35 PM 3 weeks ago

The Caffe Pompeii Circe (which is labeled as “Gusto” on the pod envelope) is one of the pods that Podhead sent me as a sample. Being fully-caffeinated I was hesitant to drink it (as caffeine hecks me up something fierce), so for the sake of this review I only did a single 16g shot.

This time I used my standard portafilter, so I don’t know whether there was channeling. However, the resulting coffee tasted smooth and well-balanced, and I definitely recommend this one wholeheartedly if you want an ESE pod to brew and don’t have any reason to avoid caffeine.

An hour later I had jitters and a panic attack, as expected. Oh well.

Gusto Decaf Polifemo

2021/09/18 6:46 PM a month ago

When I ordered a bunch of ESE pods for this ongoing ESE pod experiment, PODhead sent me a few samples of a few other pods. This is one of them. Oddly, I couldn’t find this particular one anywhere on their website, although a websearch turned it up, so it’s probably just something weird about their site navigation.

Also, given some of the extraneous slug text on the link, I worry about whether the links will remain active in the long term as their stock changes. If anyone from PODhead wants to let me know about what’s going on with that, it’d be greatly appreciated!

Anyway, they only gave me two pods, so I can only do a two-shot evaluation. For my first shot I went with a lungo, which I managed to get exactly 21g out. Yay me! The shot pulled cleanly and there was no channeling. Some slight bitter notes, maybe a little bit burned, but nothing unpleasant. Good texture. Left behind some sweet notes on my palate.

For my second shot I opted to go with a standard shot, and got 15g out. Just like with the Cremissimo arabica decaf I paradoxically got something more bitter and overextracted. So, this stuff definitely wants a shot on the longer side. It was still decently drinkable though.

This seems like a decent starter espresso for someone who just wants something simple and no-nonsense, and is somewhat forgiving to overextraction. Someone who doesn’t care about the fiddly details of espresso, or extraction ratios or channeling or texture, someone who has never heard of WDT or calibrated tamping or puck prep or any of the debates about 3 bar vs. 9 bar vs. 15 bar.

I used to be like that.

Sometimes I miss those days.

This coffee is fine.

Cremissimo arabica decaf

2021/09/18 3:07 PM a month ago

The fourth ESE pod up for review is the decaf arabica espresso by Cremissimo.

Upon opening, the pod smells like… pretty standard coffee, really. The puck is good and firm, and feels well-compacted. Pods are 7g.

For the first shot I did 24g out (3.4:1, for a longer-than-usual lungo). The resulting coffee was pretty smooth, with a slightly bitter finish and some sweet notes. There wasn’t anything about the flavor which particularly grabbed me; it tasted like a pretty ordinary espresso shot. Which, if we’re being honest, is a good thing. As usual I used the bottomless portafilter, and I didn’t see any channeling take place.

Shot 2 I only took to 14 grams, and paradoxically this was much more bitter than the first one. It tasted like the sort of espresso you’d get at a major coffee chain, or one of those mall kiosks.

And, finally, I did a 125g/4.4oz “shotover,” which took over 2 minutes to pull. It tasted like gas station coffee.

So, overall I would not recommend it. It seems to be good for lungo shots and nothing else, and even then, I’ve had better.

Procrastursive

2021/09/17 3:30 PM a month ago

Being resursively procrastinatory; for example, being distracted from work by tidying up the basement, from which one is distracted by chatting online, from which one is distracted by writing up a definition for “procrastursive”

An open letter to the .us domain registrar

2021/09/16 12:12 PM a month ago

I attempted to send this message to the .us registrar’s contact form but they kept on throwing up unreasonable, hidden barriers; it required a full first name that’s at least four letters long (sucks to have a name like “Jay” I guess) and “must only contain alphabets” (i.e. no punctuation or spaces, sucks for anyone with apostrophes) and the text input must be under 500 characters, with no indication of how many characters you’ve written.

So, I’ve submitted a very edited-down version, but am reproducing my letter in full here:

Hi, I have a number of domain names registered under several different TLDs. Most of them allow anonymous proxy registrations, with the sole exception of .us.

The lack of proxy registration causes me to get quite a lot of unsolicited calls, violations to my privacy, and attempted scams from bad actors who are all making use of the WHOIS database.

When will .us allow anonymous/proxy registrations, as is standard for pretty much every other TLD?

The current policy is especially problematic for marginalized people who are subject to protracted abuse, harassment, and threats of violence, and this makes .us unsafe for use for all but the most privileged of people.

I absolutely implore you to revisit this regressive, unfair, and downright dangerous policy that does nothing to actually improve the supposed security of the .us registration database.

ESE pod review: Bristot decaffeinato

2021/09/16 10:24 AM a month ago

The next ESE pod on my agenda is Bristot decaffeinato.

Opening the packet released a pleasantly fruity aroma.

For my first shot, I opted to use the factory portafilter (which meant not being able to directly measure the shot output), and my resulting shot was around 20g. The shot pulled quite slowly and I was worried that it would be bitter and overextracted, but the flavor was actually rich and well-rounded, and a bit nutty and sweet. Really nice crema on it as well.

To get a better comparison against the other pods so far, I pulled a second shot using the bottomless portafilter, and measured it to a 20.5g extraction, for a ratio of just under 3:1. From this I saw a little bit of channeling, a little more than the Illy pod, way less than the Arabica Express. This time the shot tasted just a little bit more bitter.

I think the main practicality problem with ESE pods is that they’re all 7-8g, so if you want a standard 2:1 ratio you’re getting only a tiny amount of espresso out. This is especially troublesome when drinking decaf, which is all about the flavor, and regardless it’s much more satisfying to have a larger shot, but even a 3:1 lungo is ridiculously small. Maybe this is a mismatch between my American sensibilities and what Italians want out of their coffee.

Or maybe I should be a bit more daring and try brewing at a higher ratio to see what comes out.

So that’s what I did:

Espresso cup sitting on a scale showing a weight of 35.6g

I was pretty worried about how this might taste. The shot looked pretty darn watery towards the end, and the shot continued to pull quite slowly.

I don’t know if it’s just that my taste buds are no good because this was my third shot tasted in a row, but… it’s fine. Tastes almost just like the first two. The texture is a little thinner, there’s a little bit more bitterness, and a bit less sweetness, but… it’s fine.

Maybe this stuff is more forgiving than I thought.

Maybe it’s just coffee and I shouldn’t get so worked up about it.