The Legacy of the Greek God Pan

Posted: January 12th, 2013 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Greek God Pan has inspired many modern ideas.

The Pipes of Pan

The Cakes of Pan

The Demic of Pan

The Handle of Pan

The Tene of Pan

Why is this Number Special?

Posted: August 14th, 2012 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Because I spend way too much time thinking about things that don’t matter in any way to anyone, I’ve been curious for several years about the single Google search term that would return the largest number of results. A couple of years ago, I concluded that the letter “a” returned the most. This conclusion came after searching for a variety of simple words, letters, and numbers (the, a, an, i, 1, etc.). Results definitely varied, but “a” was tops. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this letter, feeling that it completely ruled the alphabet.  I was thrilled that the rest of the world agreed with me.

I recently retested my theory about the total alphabetical world domination of “a”. I was shocked by the results.

So it returned a nice round number: 25,270,000. The key word here is “About”. It seems that Google throws that word in when it can’t be bothered to actually count. It’s like they’re eye-balling it. “Hmm. Let’s go with 25 billion. No wait. A smidge more.”

So I tried a few others.

The letter “i”, clearly an inferior letter, received the same estimate. Something is wrong. I feel that “a” is being seriously slighted.

What about a numeral, you say?

Yep, the same results. How can a numeral ever hope to compete with a letter, let alone one as massively impressive as “a”? I could understand if “i” and “1″ had the same results. After all, they’re practically twins. But the same as “a”? No freakin’ way.

It appears that Google’s internal abacus thingy can only go to 25,270,000 before moving on to greener pastures. What can be so important that it seems to be intentionally depriving me of crucial, life-affirming information?

Next, I’ll try the same exercise with Bing and see if the bastards at Microsoft have any more chutzpah.

Radio on a Bike

Posted: June 30th, 2012 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

On June 29th, 99 and I did our entire show from the seats of our bikes while meandering Boulder’s bike paths. This was the last day of Boulder’s Bike to Work Week and the last day of KGNU’s Summer Pledge Drive.

This show was inspired by something similar that was done by WFMU a while back. While they did it using a long custom-built trailer, we decided we wanted to do it with no trailer, using as much off-the-shelf tech as possible.

Our route took us on a 2 1/2 hour loop around Boulder. Along the way, we stopped to chat with reps from Community Cycles and Boulder BCycle. We also chatted with our Friday co-host, Joe King, and met some KGNU listeners.

Here are the technical details:

For the music, I pre-recorded our sets to mp3’s. We typically use DJay on a MacBook in the studio to do our shows, so decided to use this again. Our laptop was in the studio, running DJay. We had thought about using the iPad version of DJay and taking the iPad with us, but the limitations of iOS’s audio engine prevented us from being able to stream the audio from the iPad back to the studio. Solid connectivity would also be a big issue. Unfortunately, this conclusion was reached only after several months of research. Instead, we used our iPad to connect to the laptop in the studio using PocketCloud Remote Desktop. This allowed us to load and fire the prerecorded tracks from the iPad we had mounted to our handlebars. Thanks to our friend Eric Freese for the spark for this idea. This piece worked like a charm.

iPad on the handlebars

Voice was a bit more interesting. The iPad only allows one audio app at a time to use its audio engine, so we knew we couldn’t run our voices through the iPad. The next best choice was our iPhones. First, we bought a cable to allow us to plug a standard xlr microphone into the iPhone’s audio out. This cable also had a splitter allowing us to plug in headphones.

To get the audio back to the studio, we experimented with a regular phone call and with Skype. We did some extensive testing with Skype and found that it sounded best when the iPhone is connected to the personal hotspot from the iPad, which was connected to the internet via 4G LTE. Next best audio quality was plain old cell phone, and worst was using the iPhone’s standard 3G and Skype. We tested the first choice at all the places along the route we were planning to stop and it sounded great, with pretty solid connectivity. But would it work on game day? No.

When we got out on the road, some obscure little demon prevented us from a) connecting the iPhone to the iPad’s personal hotspot and b) calling out on Skype. The question of the day was “WTF?” Very frustrating. We ended up relying on the crappy sounding, but very solid plain old cell phone for our voices.

The other major snafu was that, because I made the mistake of keeping Pocket Cloud connected continuously, it very quickly drained my monthly data allowance with Verizon. I upped the plan by another 10Gb in mid-ride, but burned through that within another 30-40 minutes. From there, Verizon didn’t seem to want to let me add more, so the last half hour or so was done by having John Schaefer, KGNU’s music director, fire our tracks directly on our laptop back in the studio. Lesson learned: disconnect when not in use. Also, before we do something like this again, we’re going to research a replacement for Skype.

Also, thanks to a suggestion by WFMU’s Ken Freedman, we put a small set of speakers on 99’s handlebars, which played the audio from our web stream using her iPhone. This allowed us and anyone within a few feet to hear the live stream.

iPhone inside the handlebar speakers

All-in-all, it was a lot of fun. Was it amazing and compelling radio? Who cares? Mainly it opened our eyes to the possibility of doing our shows from almost anywhere.

Here’s the show.

Leaving the studio

Chatting with Rich Points of Community Cycles

The Community Cycles crew

With Elizabeth Train from Boulder BCycle

With Joe King and Steve Priem on the Pearl Street Mall

Reading back the set list from Scott Carpenter Park

List: The Top 10 Years of 2011

Posted: January 1st, 2012 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
  1. 2011
  2. 2011
  3. 2011
  4. 2011
  5. 2011
  6. 2011
  7. 2011
  8. 2011
  9. 2011
  10. 2011

(A close runner up, in position 11 is 2011.)

A Lip Reader’s Translation of Herman Cain

Posted: November 19th, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Some Words of Wisdom from Alan Grayson

Posted: October 23rd, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Kiyohiko Senba & the Haniwa All-Stars Live In Concert

Posted: September 11th, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

A Public Service Announcement

Posted: July 13th, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Trololo as You’ve Never Heard It before

Posted: July 12th, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

See the original a few posts below…

The Monk and the Missionary

Posted: June 16th, 2011 | Author: Barry | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

In a village, there were fishermen and farmers, butchers and blacksmiths, and a monk and a missionary.  It was the peak of the growing season, a time when the corn should be bursting with rich golden tassels, but it had been weeks since the last rainfall, and there were no tassels on the stalks that wilted weakly in the sun.

An old cottage rested at the end of an overgrown path just outside of town, and in it sat a concerned monk.  He did not sleep.  He did not eat.  He did not waste any time; he simply sat, and prayed for rain.

At the other end of town was another old cottage, and in this one stood a concerned missionary.  Quite opposite of the monk, he had decided that personal prayer was useless.  What difference would it make if he himself prayed while no one else prayed with him?  There’s no way he could bring the rains by himself.  Yes, the only reasonable course of action was to spread his knowledge and convince all of the villagers to pray.

The missionary took to the roads, tirelessly traveling the length of the village and spreading his message.  He took no time to break, not even for prayer.  Some accepted his message without question, and woke up early in the day to pray before leaving for work, but many questioned him.  Why should they pray when the very man telling them to pray did not even pray himself?

For weeks the monk prayed in his cottage and the missionary made his way across the village.  Though the monk had prayed so focused and deliberately and the missionary had delivered his message to nearly every person in the village, the rains still had not come.

One day near the end of his journey, the missionary came to an overgrown path just outside of town.  He followed the path and came to an old cottage.  Knocking on the door brought him face to face with the monk, and he smiled and let loose his well-rehearsed speech.

“Good day,” the missionary said, “I’ve come to ask you to pray for rain.  It is the only way that we can bring water to our parched farms that so desperately need it.  Can I count on you?  Our livelihood depends on it.”

“I have been praying,” replied the monk.  “For weeks I have done nothing but prayed.  I have not slept a single minute and I have not eaten a single bite.  Tell me, brother, how much time do you devote to prayer yourself?”

“For me, prayer is a waste of time,” the missionary calmly responded.  “It is much more sensible to spread the message of prayer to others, for the power of many is vastly superior to the power of one.  Do you really think that you can command the rain all by yourself?”

“No, I know that I cannot do it alone, but I have faith in the other people of this village.  I have faith that they will see the truth as I have, that they will pray for rain without anyone commanding them to.”

“But I have traveled across the entire village.  I have talked with every single villager.  No one understands.  No one prays.  My speech was the first that they had heard on the matter.  The message must be taught.  People will not learn it on their own.”

“But people will not believe your message when they realize that you do not practice what you preach.  Don’t you see that they will think you a hypocrite?”

The missionary paused for a moment, and then responded, “I see what you’re saying, and from our conversation it has become apparent that both of our actions over the last weeks have been flawed.  On one hand, it is not enough to simply spend your time praying, because you cannot bring the rains alone and it is not safe to assume that others will join you in prayer without your talking to them.  But on the other hand, it is not enough to spend all of your time preaching, because people will see you as a hypocrite and disregard your message.”

The monk and the missionary left the cottage together and walked along the overgrown path back to the village.  They traveled again from door to door, but this time they were sure to spend half of their time praying and half of their time speaking with villagers.

Two days later, it started raining. The monk and the missionary met in the center of the village, where they were both struck by lightning and burned to a crisp. Their ashes, along with the whole village, was washed away in a flash flood. Go figure.