Saturday, October 22, 2011

FontForge looks like the answer to my restlessness... [NOT]

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Thanks to Fzz's link to a kerning game... that inspired this sudden concentrated exploration into typography :-P Tried my hands at the game and didn't do too badly I suppose.

Although the actual task of designing a font is rather involved!

I tried to install FontForge via Cygwin at first, then found it to be hopelessly and needlessly complicated. And then I realized, doh, I have Ubuntu. And then the installation was just one line -

    sudo apt-get install fontforge python-fontforge 

Admittedly, this is the first time I truly felt that my multi-OS machine has finally found its purpose... to be multi-OS... after the fiasco of trying to install Jacapo in Ubuntu (which is a lot more complicated than a single sudo command)

Maybe I can fiddle with the notion of my own usefulness for awhile. FontForge looks sufficiently complex to sustain my play for at least a few months.

[Edit] I impulsively upgraded my Ubuntu from 10.04 to 11.10 and now FontForge doesn't work anymore. Blerg! At least "Oneiric Ocelot" sounds cool. I wanted the next release to be called "Pensive Pelican" or "Pouncing Panther" or... "Peeing Poodle", which Fzz said was better than "Pooping Poodle" because it could be shortened to "PeePoo". The developers should make that an April Fool's joke or something...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Composers' self-indulgence (?)

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These are the type of songs I usually write. They tend to exhibit looping motifs and certain types of chord progressions that I happen to particularly like.

(1) The same kind of unresolved progression (i-VI7) as in Dido's "Thank You".

  • (2) An example of the Andalusian cadence. You can overlay Turtle's "So Happy Together" on this... assuming they're in the same key of course. Seriously.

  • (3) Here I blatantly ripped off a melody from Dvořák's Cello Concerto. And didn't do much with it.

  • (4) "Turkey trot" vs. Mozart's "Turkish March"... I could not resist.

  • (5) Now, here is something I normally wouldn't write. This was pro bono for an online friend.

  • Goes to show that an amateur composer can afford to be so very self-indulgent yet still unsatisfactory on every level.

    Debussy apparently had a wild temper. One can't really tell from his music... or shall one say, it's because he had wild tempers that he had to write such flowing and calming music? Although his music was probably the most effective pick-up line that started his numerous romantic relationships.

    What about Shostakovich's angsty grunts and ooomphs? Were they disguised primal screams from being denounced and abandoned repeatedly?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Political correctness in a litigative society

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    A native South African who teaches history in the U.S. was fired because of making "racist" comments. I'm rather curious about exactly what he said. Probably stemming from a similar type of dark humor as the characters here.

    I wonder if the American psyche is still suffering from a form of mass-cultural PTSD... stemming from many explosive events in the course of an angst-filled history... resulting in such concern and hypersensitivity over issues of being politically correct. This is what happens when people of different colors and creeds are crammed together. With all the good and bad that comes out of it.

    Tsk... people... so obsessed about these things. How depressing. If we were all translucent amorphous informational cloud entities, this would never happen.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    WARNING: Conference trolls, mess with me and you die. :-)

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    (2:15:22 PM) Me: I have found that conference poster trolls are @$$holes
    (2:15:30 PM) Me: At some point I will screw with them
    (2:15:53 PM) Me: But I'm too much of a rookie right now
    (2:20:09 PM) Friend: It's not a big deal when you're presenting a poster
    (2:20:18 PM) Friend: Just wait until you give a talk and the trolls attack
    (2:20:31 PM) Me: hmm
    (2:20:41 PM) Me: I have not encountered that at that symposium
    (2:20:44 PM) Friend: Chances are it's something personal in any case
    (2:21:04 PM) Me: however, the moderator did introduce one speaker as "beauty and power in the same package"
    (2:21:19 PM) Friend: People challenging your work have a competing work, or more likely they're competing for a share of the same funding pie.
    (2:21:24 PM) Me: because the audience was 2/3 white males over 40
    (2:21:39 PM) Me: and the speaker was a youngish Chinese woman
    (2:21:51 PM) Me: I see... competitors
    (2:21:57 PM) Friend: Haha what is this the 19th century?
    (2:22:03 PM) Me: yes
    (2:22:05 PM) Me: totally
    (2:22:09 PM) Friend: At least physicists don't have the balls to make a comment like that.
    (2:22:32 PM) Me: Although if the competitors don't have valid point, everyone else can see that it's playground squabble
    (2:23:48 PM) Friend: I don't get it was the moderator really old?
    (2:24:07 PM) Friend: I just can't imagine that happening at any conference I go to, it'd be really awkward
    (2:24:30 PM) Me: He was kinda old
    (2:24:35 PM) Me: Not *that* old
    (2:24:38 PM) Me: 50 ish
    (2:24:56 PM) Me: I wonder how many times the speaker got comments like these
    (2:25:10 PM) Me: prolly a few times
    (2:30:18 PM) Friend: Still doesn't seem very appropriate in a professional setting.
    (2:30:24 PM) Friend: Even if it's a real small conference.
    (2:30:35 PM) Friend: Unless the speaker was the moderator's wife or something like that
    (2:30:44 PM) Me: oh hahahahahha
    (2:30:58 PM) Me: That has not been confirmed or denied... :P
    (2:31:04 PM) Friend: Well who knows.
    (2:31:13 PM) Me: indeed
    (2:31:16 PM) Friend: I keep hearing conferences are good places to hook up
    (2:31:26 PM) Me: Even for old ass people?
    (2:31:32 PM) Me: ... especially
    (2:31:35 PM) Me: for old ass people
    (2:32:09 PM) Friend: You have a point
    (2:32:21 PM) Friend: I'm 29 and I'm already starting to lose interest
    (2:33:24 PM) Me: les sighs
    (2:36:08 PM) Friend: I can't imagine what I'd be like when I'm 50
    (2:36:26 PM) Me: I can't either
    (2:36:28 PM) Me: scary thought
    (2:36:34 PM) Me: banish banish
    (2:42:20 PM) Friend: tiger mom :-P
    (2:43:26 PM) Me: Me?? ZOMG
    (2:43:40 PM) Me: I sure hope not

    (3:16:41 PM) Me: I shall try to get some exercise now I suppose
    (3:16:58 PM) Friend: You should lift weights and get really buff, wouldn't that be cool?
    (3:17:04 PM) Me: I am already hahaha
    (3:17:15 PM) Friend: I mean arnold buff
    (3:17:17 PM) Me: I lift weights when I watch TV
    (3:17:19 PM) Me: oh lol
    (3:17:23 PM) Me: I thought he used roids
    (3:17:29 PM) Friend: That's also an option
    (3:17:34 PM) Me: no roids for me.
    (3:17:38 PM) Friend: You lift weights while watching tv?
    (3:17:41 PM) Me: yes
    (3:17:57 PM) Friend: Like you benchpress 400 lbs?
    (3:18:04 PM) Me: I wish hahaha
    (3:18:11 PM) Friend: That would rule
    (3:18:14 PM) Me: it would
    (3:18:21 PM) Me: and then I would be afraid of no one
    (3:18:36 PM) Me: the conference trolls I can take out in 3 seconds
    (3:18:39 PM) Friend: Then you would get some good introductions at conferences
    (3:18:47 PM) Me: Hell yeah
    (3:19:13 PM) Me: alright time to run up and down stairs.......
    (3:19:14 PM) Friend: You should start wearing a sword and a full suit of armor to conferences
    (3:19:19 PM) Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA
    (3:19:30 PM) Friend: The trolls won't mess with you.
    (3:19:34 PM) Me: Totally awesome
    (3:19:56 PM) Me: Mayhaps I shall try that sometimes
    (3:20:04 PM) Friend: I just learned the other day the main character in metroid is a girl
    (3:20:10 PM) Me: :P
    (3:20:20 PM) Friend: Perhaps a suit like that.
    (3:22:03 PM) Me: booyah
    (3:23:01 PM) Friend:
    (3:23:09 PM) Friend: Yes, this will do
    (3:23:13 PM) Me: hohoh
    (3:23:19 PM) Friend: But a bigger gun
    (3:23:24 PM) Me: pffft
    (3:23:42 PM) Friend: You prefer the sword?
    (3:23:50 PM) Me: yes
    (3:24:11 PM) Me: I like to have slim and deadly weaponry
    (3:24:28 PM) Me: mmmmmmmm
    (3:24:35 PM) Me: okay aerobic workout time
    (3:24:52 PM) Me: stairs on mid-rises
    (3:25:00 PM) Friend:
    (3:25:16 PM) Me: hahaa
    (3:25:22 PM) Friend: Surprisingly most images of girls with swords are also very skimpily dressed
    (3:25:28 PM) Me: no one is ever messing with her
    (3:25:29 PM) Me: lol
    (3:25:31 PM) Friend: Not really appropriate for conference
    (3:25:37 PM) Me: indeed

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Cultural jabs in non-American films

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    I think "foreign films" sounds decidedly American-centric. It's interesting to observe the cultural nuances from non-Hollywood films. And of course, non-Hollywood almost means non-American...

    [Translated] quotes from Mýrin, a.k.a. Jar City, an Icelandic film:
    "Ever been to Stockholm? Terrible place!"
    "Is that what they teach you in America? Stop being a pussy."
    I have a hard time telling whether that's a friendly poke and shout-out, or the writer/director has some beef with Stockholm or Swedes in general, or many Icelanders have similar beef to pick. But the way the police chief makes fun of the rookie on his team who has (studied?) in America at some point... indicates some nationalist pride perhaps.

    Quotes from Eagle vs. Shark, a New Zealand film:
     "I sell these to the Muslims..." (character holds up a candle of twin towers) "and these to the Yanks." (same character holds up a candle of Bin Laden)
    "Where do you want to go?"
    "Home, I want to go home."
    "Ah, home's horrible. You must want to go somewhere else."
    "Mmm, dunno. Australia?"
    "Nah, not there. My ex-wife lives there."
    "What, is she alive?"
    "Who cares about her, she's a lesbian."
    Okay, the candle example I find rather insensitive actually. But perhaps because I have been conditioned by the distinctively American inhibitory sense of political-correctness. Like not all Muslims are militant, etc. In any event, it's not nice to joke about any incidence of mass murder, IMHO. The lesbian joke, while also not very politically correct, is funny like South Park funny.

    And I don't know if the New Zealanders still feel superior to the Australians because back in the 19th Century, many British elites settled in New Zealand while many British convicts got sent to Australia. Perhaps the older generations still do?

    Maybe it will take an external event of cataclysmic scale in order for all Earthlings to realize that... we are all Earthlings.

    Silly word finder on Facebook...

    - - -
    It should read "Uncover your subconscious thoughts at this particular moment" or something like that.

    Mine were "fool", "broke", and "funny". At least 2 out of 3 right on the dot, I must say...

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Duct tape should hold...

    - - -
    My Doink-it dartboard fell and landed on my synthesizer
    that is covered with pale blue bedsheets too small for my current bed.

    The thud shattered the pale blue illusion of silence
    with reverberations of dissonance from an imaginary time and space.

    The black circular plastic raft still floated on pale blue wrinkly water waves
    like a very symmetric and frozen body bag.

    I wonder why the dartboard fell.
    It was duct-taped to an adjustable metal easel.

    Duct tape should hold.

    Why did the dartboard fall?

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    On conducting (and perhaps parenting, among other things)

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    Charles Hazlewood - #TEDGlobal "Conducting is like holding a bird in your hand – too tight, you crush it. Too light, it flies away..." (quoted from Sir Colin Davis)

    It's really about the trust. If that is granted, all else follows. (... borrowing from George Orwell again) The lack thereof begets hatred and contempt.

    I admit it is very very difficult for me to completely trust another. But I guess there're still safeguards that keep me from degenerating into a sociopathic criminal...

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Associative Musical Visual Intelligence

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    Take the quiz here. I thought the analogy between musical phrases and geometrical shapes is interesting but has room for interpretation. I got one question "wrong" out of twenty. I also had to listen to each one 2-3 times. So meh. Although I suspect the average score would be significantly lower if they don't have the replay button. I wonder if they take into account how many times something is replayed or how fast the tasks are completed.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Narrative shot [003]

    - - -
    (Warning: angst.)

    Radiating waves of self-hatred, insidious as hydrofluoric acid on skin, were slowly corroding his tattered skeleton of rationality. He slammed the porcelain onto the table and felt the shards digging into his hand, followed by an explosive sensation in maniacal glory. Possessed by a demonic impulse, he proceeded to hurl everything through the 7th-floor glass window, tearing apart the room and his every muscle fiber, all while roaring like the death of a magnificent beast.