Archived News for April 2008

Top Secret

A short (~1 min) aleatoric piece I put together. I didn't quite roll dice, but close. No post-production, save de-hiss and mudify. And all very analogue.

Top Secret, MP3, 2.6 MiB


So far:

Total words: 156,727
Unique words: 14,293
Total articles, definite and indefinite: 11,682
Mean letters per word: 5.28
700th most popular word: drink

The Hive

Today was launch day on the project I've been working on for the past couple of months, for my employer, Eventfinder. The site is called The Hive.

The Hive

You might count on me to say so, but I think we've come up with something really great. It's shiny, slick, useful, and I think it's going to be good fun to use, too. I'm pretty damn proud to be working on it.

If you're wondering what it's all about, basically, we have a full catalogue of every event you might want to go to, kick-ass giveaways, all the event news that's fit to print, artist profiles, venue information, and everything can be commented on, rated and blogged about on-site. You can see what's going on at your local venue, see when your favourite artist is next playing, or see what events your friends are going to. There's a lot going on.

I'm here - if you sign up, add me as a friend and say hi.

LaTeX in Pictures

LaTeX is extremely awesome. I wish I'd started using it sooner. The output is so beautiful, it makes me want to write essays. It turns this:

LaTeX source code

Into this:

LaTeX output

See the automatic ligatures and true italics? See the kerning, the beautiful justified paragraphs, and that font; the one that evokes arcane academia like no other?

LaTeX features

And I won't even start to discuss the bibliographic features which let me throw in whatever I like here:


And get this added to the end of my document:


It's so good, I'm finding things to write. Like essays that aren't due until next week - ages away! Insane, huh.

Free Awesomeness

Kerry Logan

I've spent the last few years having Stranger by New Zealand band Shift in my regular playlist. I have a little of their other stuff, too, but I've always been trying to get my hands on more.

A Google search, today, revealed, where you can download an album of theirs for free. I highly recommend you do so.

And when you're done, maybe check out some newer music. I'm doing just that, now.

IBM Selectric II

I recently purchased an IBM Selectric II typewriter off Trademe.

Naked, and ready for work
Cover off, tinkering time.

It really is a marvel of engineering. It's completely mechanical, besides a single electric motor supplying torque. In other words, you could hook up a hand-crank or foot pedal, and the whole thing would work exactly the same. And for something mechanical, it manages to do quite a lot. You can set and clear an unlimited number of tab stops, correct text without taking your hands off the keyboard, do super- and sub-script, adjust the striking distance and impression strength, etc. It's just amazing to see it in operation.

In fact, it's quite easily the most complex piece of mechanical equiptment I've ever seen. And, after my tinkering, it's in perfect working condition - not a single problem with it - which is fantastic for something this intricate and this old (it was built in the mid to late 1970s). If you open up a typewriter only a few years more recent, all you'll find is some dusty circuit boards and stepper motors. The Selectric, on the other hand, is filled with crank shafts, gears, bars, hooks, cams and springs.

Paper loaded
The platen is a full 15", meaning it can accomodate A3 easily. In fact, it can accomodate something 25% wider than A3, as shown here.

It's a "golf-ball" typewriter, meaning it has a single, round type element that is rotated to the correct position and then pressed against the page. Why? Well, with a single typing element it's impossible to have more than one piece of type in the same place at the same time: using a golf-ball completely eliminates overstriking and typebar clashing.

I've spent the last couple of days tinkering around with it, and fixed a lot of minor problems. Quite a few of them were to do with the angle of the margin rail - if it's slightly out, you end up with all sorts of problems, from the carriage getting stuck to the right of the right margin, to the right margin warning bell ringing only a couple of characters before the keyboard lockout (annoying).

Cover on, finished tinkering
It's sky blue. Not that you can tell by these photos.

But now, it's my favourite piece of hardware, even ahead of my beloved IBM Model M. They share a very similar key weight, which is very nice.

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