Eridol R-1 Palm Sized Digital Recorder

I have been looking for a portable digital recorder for some time. As I seem to be getting poorer and poorer everyday the mini-disc options that are available in Taiwan are far too expensive, especially since they kinda suck. r1_diagonal_sm.jpgAnalog is not something I want to deal with so tape is out. It looks as though Eridols R-1 Portable Recorder & Player is going to be my new lust after tool (toy). It’s palm-sized, has an integrated stereo microphone, and recording to CompactFlash. “And as opposed to cheap consumer audio gadgets, this box records absolutely clean; even the built-in stereo mic sounds terrific (check out the audio samples). The extras are just as impressive: there

Introduction to CSS + HTML

“This short tutorial is meant for people who want to start using CSS and have never written a CSS style sheet before.
It does not explain much of CSS. It just explains how to create an HTML file, a CSS file and how to make them work together. After that, you can read any of a number of other tutorials to add more features to the HTML and CSS files. Or you can switch to using a dedicated HTML or CSS editor, that helps you set up complex sites.”
Good tutorial but interestingly it has huge display problems in Mac Firefox.
Read Starting with HTML + CSS.

How to do a Mind Map

Mind maps were within my organisation used a great deal to represent and work through information structures of new web site projects. I never liked them for that purpose but they are a great way to help you think through problems, flush out new concepts, and undertstand and remember new information. James Cook University has published a short how-to on mind-mapping with an image of a sample essay mind map.
Read How to do a Mind Map

Job’s on Pixar, Story, and Users

Fortune magazine has a technology special on Apple, and in a short interview with Steve Jobs he comments:
“I’ve always said that Pixar is the most technically advanced creative company; Apple is the most creatively advanced technical company. At Apple we come at everything asking, ‘How easy is this going to be for the user? How great is it going to be for the user?’ After that, it’s like at Pixar. Everyone in Hollywood says the key to good animated movies is story, story, story. But when it really gets down to it, when the story isn’t working, they will not stop production and spend more money and get the story right. That’s what I see about the software business. Everybody says, ‘Oh, the user is the most important thing,’ but nobody else really does it.”
Unfortunately you have to be a magazine subscriber to read the full article.
Technology – Apple: Five Questions for Steve Jobs – Intro – FORTUNE

Gmail invites

For the longest time using a web application as your primary means of accessing e-mail was certain to be an experience full of frustration. I could never understand why people used them; they are slow, full of ads, difficult to manage, and especially with Hotmail customer adverse. When dealing with large volumes of e-mail client software always wins hands down. That is until Gmail.
While I still use Apple Mail, at least for now, Gmail is in many respects superior. I find it faster in almost every regard and especially so when searching (makes some sense since it’s google). Ask Apple mail to find a search term and it grinds to an almost standstill on my powerbook. Gmail handles the same request with ease.
The point of mentioning this, beyond a bit of praise for Google, is that like everyone else with a Gmail account, I have invites. About 50 more invites than I have friends. If your interested in an invite send me a note at kelake at

Good Bye Bldg. 51

Almost a couple months have passed since I wrote about hearing that my employer would be laying off a large number of staff. It was largely a thinning of the ranks through early retirement and generous severance packages for those who would agree to leave. The company is refocusing it’s human resources on specific research for which the team I call home does not fit. This kind of event always brings stress and sadness, especially since no one knew how or who would be affected. I had for some time given some thought to seeking new challenges, so the thought of leaving the company wasn’t a new one. Thinking about and having the reality of having to make a quick decision are different things. In the end with a great deal of consideration I chose to leave. After close to six years of employment I “retired” last week.

The past six years will be the bench mark for my future career experiences. If I can find a group of people as good as the team I have had the pleasure of working with the past years than I will consider myself very lucky indeed. Many of the people I have worked with are like second family (most of who have gone themselves). Leaving isn’t easy but hopefully new opportunities await. In many ways I feel the past years have provided me with a tremendous opportunity for learning and growth. Now that I have “graduated”, it’s time to put these skills to work.

Though I am officially gone. I am still there for 6 more weeks – Chientai and I will be writing what will be hopefully one of the better manuals on developing good user experiences for the Chinese market. Should be a fun final 6 weeks.

Common Misconceptions About Hearing

Any musician who has had to work with sound reinforcement will appreciate this article. Here is an excerpt:
“In the range of safe sound levels (let’s say up to 85 dBA for a 8 hour exposure) adjustment should not be restricted. However,levels above 85 dBA are dangerous and can cause permanent hearing damage. Given the choice, most sensible people would not knowingly choose to put themselves in an environment that was considered hazardous to their health. However, many patrons are unaware of the potential danger of sustaining permanent hearing loss and are also unaware of the fact that noise levels over 85 dBA are dangerous.
An informed public, coupled with rational behavior, are key ingredients in the protection of individuals from both hearing lossand extra health costs. Unfortunately, existing legislation does not require informing patrons of potential health hazards that could harm them, thereby eliminating the concept of “informed consent”. Enforcement of existing work place laws should protectnightclub employees, patrons, teachers, musicians, D.J’s or any other individual who may be exposed to dangerous noise levelsthat could pose a potential health hazard. Regretfully, such laws are very seldom implemented or enforced.”
In my youth I was exposed to far too many lousy sound engineers who hadn’t a clue about proper reinforcements levels. The sound levels I had to endure were excruciating. As well, an old Austrian trumpet teacher of mine used to instruct me to practice with the bell of my trumpet facing a wall where I could get a better idea if I was “playing in the slots”. Well it worked, I was playing in the slots but that coupled with the noisy bands contributed to the tinnitus I have today. A factor in ending my performing career (the most mitigating factor was the simple fact that I wasn’t that good).
Read the full article

SOORIKIAN process of design

Well put and quite true.
“All the elements of the Parthenon can be seen in its early prototype The Temple of Hera II at Paestum, Italy. It is thick and squat. All the ideas and ideals of a culture are there crammed into its chubby carcass. As the Greeks stood back and looked at the form they felt it was time for a makeover. Only the physical existence of a prototype at actual size and girth set against a beautiful blue sky could have inspired them to make the counterintuitive refinements that were ultimately incorporated into Parthenon. Soorikian Furniture aspires to follow this example as a means of developing its products. The things that make a drawing beautiful do not always make a beautiful object. It is through the making and remaking of the prototype that each piece comes about.”

Ten Questions for a Listener

“In the context of Acousmatic Music, composers often fail to consider the social background or imagery of the sounds they employ. The dominant tradition of musical abstraction, in fact, encourages the destruction of social referentiality altogether. Through exercises such as this one, it is hoped that composers of Acousmatic Music can develop a broader awareness of the sounds within reach of a field recorder. Microphones, after all, should not be kept immune from capturing the social context surrounding a desirable source-sound.”
Darren Copeland: Ten Questions for a Listener

The Japanese Sound Culture

Interesting notes from an article written by Tadahiko Imada.
“The decision of whether some sounds are regarded as music or not rests with the cultural background of the listener. In other words, cultures do not share the same methods of listening; there are as many ways of listening as there are cultures and ears. I am going to introduce the Japanese sound culture and its heritage.
It is very difficult to explain the Japanese musical sensations in Genji Monogatari using English. It seems the ancient Japanese people considered various sounds as the total ‘scenery,’ and being more imaginative than us, there was no border between sound and music in the ancient Japanese sound culture. The Japanese people regarded sound as an abstract image rather than as a pragmatic acoustic event, like the sound of the bloom of a lotus flower and suikinkutsu, for instance. The concept of sound was extended from the real sound of an instrument to sounds of a variety of phenomena in the ancient Japanese culture.”
Japanese Sound Culture