More Star Trek Politics

Not all Trek fans are lovely people. There have been a few dodgy types I’ve met online who turn out to be raging homophobes or sexists or one of those right-wing types who thinks calling someone an ‘SJW’ is an insult. Which is the equivalent of someone sneering at a campaigner for human rights.

When I encounter right-wing Trekkies, I always wonder what attracted them to Gene Roddenberry’s view of a moneyless future of free housing, education, food and healthcare? How do they process the cognitive dissonance of loving the first ever US TV show to feature an inter-racial kiss with moaning about the multi-ethnic cast of Discovery? While they’re complaining about female captains, have they forgotten about a little show called Voyager? How do they whinge about a separate LGBT group “splitting up Trek fans” at the same time as voting for Brexit and not see the irony? 

But I don’t engage with them online. In terms of Trek, their views are so non-sensical and illogical that trying to discuss with them is a zero-sum game. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations is a philosophy of accepting and exalting in difference, therefore it excludes philosophies that promote hatred of difference. (Argued more at length here.)

Here’s the thing: I don’t owe anyone my time. My time is precious and, on the cosmic scale, astoundingly fleeting. I want to use every second I have to meet positive, friendly people from whom I can learn and grow and be a better person. Arguing online with shrivelled nutsacks of pulsating hatred is not part of that plan.

So, think what you want, say what you want, I’m not censoring your proud and fundamentally anti-Trek idiocy. You go ahead, spew your hateful gibberish about ‘gays taking over’ or ‘straight white males are the minority now.’

But don’t expect even a femtosecond of interaction from rational Trekkies. 

We simply don’t have the time, we’re too busy building the future Gene wanted.

Synthfest UK 2018

This Saturday just gone, I went to Synthfest UK 2018

It’s an annual gathering both of makers of electronic gear and the end users – like a big trade show but with a way more personal touch.

Here’s a little vid I made:

As you can see from the vid, there’s a huge range of stuff to look at but, more importantly, you can twiddle with it all!

When I was a kid and when huge music shops like Turnkey still existed as bricks and mortar emporia, I used to go to London specifically to try out synths that you would never see up in Derby.

Going round Synthfest always reminds me of that feeling. Where the hell do I start? I just want to play and patch EVERYTHING but there simply isn’t enough time. It’s equal parts joy and frustration. 

And then there’s the makers. How wonderful it is to go up to the person who built something you own and give them  actual feedback. Every maker I met was as super-enthusiastic as the punters. They were all proud of their shiny metal babies and loved hearing how we used them. 

There’s only one criticism of Synthfest I can make ~ it’s a very white, middle-aged, male event. It’d be lovely to see more younger people, more female geeks wandering about and the same goes for black and Asian noisemakers. This lack of diversity isn’t specifically because Synthfest excludes groups; it’s more that it just replicates the existing biases within the music scene. What we have to do is actively combat those barriers to entry, to reach out to people who may not feel they’re invited or that it’s for them. After all, how much of contemporary music isn’t electronic? 5%? Less?

I think we could start to address this by tweaking the program to be more inclusive and more attractive to different groups of people.

Anyway, polemic over, here’s my gallery of pics from the day:

Synthfest UK 2018

If you’re an electro music geek, whether you’re a builder or a player or both, please do check out the next Synthfest. I think you’ll love it. 

Fantasy Trek Crews

To boldly snog…

No, no, not THAT kind of fantasy, yer slash pervs! 😛

A discussion on Facebook lead me to posting this: 

This one is EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY:

From non-Trek SF telly: 
 
1. Captain Samantha Carter
2. First Officer Lee Adama
3. Chief Engineer Kaywinnet Lee Frye
4. Tactical/Security Officer Kiera Cameron
5. Helmsman Ulysses Adair
6. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Walter Bishop
7. Operations John Kennex
8. Science Officer Orac
 
From Trek: 
 
1. Captain Wesley Crusher
2. First Officer Amanda Rogers
3. Chief Engineer Hugh Borg
4. Tactical/Security Officer Gary Seven
5. Helmsman Morn
6. Chief Medical Officer Dr. M’Benga
7. Operations M’Ress
8. Science Officer Saru

What would your dream crew be, eh? 

BSG Versus Trek

My reply to the above:

If you compare TOS to reboot BSG, then it may look dated and certainly the effects are *now* inferior. BUT at the time TOS came out, it was a revolutionary series, in terms of both conception and (where the studio allowed!) execution. The first inter-racial kiss on US TV: check. A bridge crew of officers which included numerous human ethnicities AND Spock? Check. A future which is has abolished money and where education, food, shelter and healthcare are free for every human? Check. And it’s well known that Roddenberry actually wanted to push even further but the studio wouldn’t have it.

BSG may be absolutely “sexier” and “grittier” but *for the time it was made and released*, it took far fewer risks than TOS. So, BSG may seem edgier but, really, how many real risks did it take compared to TOS? None that I can remember.

Also, I would argue that dystopias are lazy, we’re drowning in them! Every new YA is set in a dystopia with a plucky Mary Sue-ish heroine torn between two boys, one bad, one good, both gorgeous and, like, totally into her. I’m not saying BSG is the same as Divergent or Maze Runner or The Hunger Games but it is Yet Another Robot Uprising Armageddon. It’s hard to write a happy song, very easy to write a sad one. Roddenberry’s genius is that he wrote a happy song that wasn’t The Frog Chorus. (see also Iain M. Banks’ Culture.)

Dystopia… pah, gimme a UTOPIA, like Roddenberry did. Give me an Earth with a mature, cohesive humanity, a place of wonder and beauty that can inspire us now. (And then pit that world against all kinds of wild, external baddie, sure.)

You can’t watch TOS now as it actually was back then because TOS itself changed the world. Trek permeates everything. BSG is quality entertainment, Trek is an entire philosophy of life.

Dante Virtual Soundcard Woes On An iMac Pro

Behold! My lovely, shiny, 32 in, 32 out Tascam ML-32D Dante audio interface.

That’s right, Dante, the amazing tech from Audinate that lets you send a gazillion streams of audio everywhere over plain old Cat5e or above cable. Dante will help!

Annoyed that Thunderbolt leads seem to have a maximum length of 2cm? DANTE!

Worried your USB extension is gonna come loose when the pigeons in your loft find it? DANTE!

It’s the one-stop solution to all your audio networking worries.

In theory…

I got my ML-32D yesterday morning. I hooked it up, booted my iMac Pro, fired up Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS), which is how your computer talks to a Dante network in the absence of dedicated hardware like a PCIe card, and beamed like a happy child at the screen.

But there was a RED BOX in Dante Controller (how you configure said network). The red box indicated the iMac Pro was not syncing with the ML-32D clock. Hmm, must be something simple, I thought… everything else is green, all the bits are being recognised.

So I tried swapping cables.

Then I tried swapping switches. Went from a Netgear to an Asus and then to switch-free, a direct connection from iMac Pro to ML32D.

Nope. Red box. Sync error.

I got in touch with Audinate customer support who were both extremely prompt and very helpful. I followed their suggestion and installed an older version of DVS.

Nope. Red box. Sync error.

From 9.30am until 1.30am this morning (well, with a couple of breaks to eat and have a little cry), I installed, un-installed, swapped cables and rebooted, rebooted, rebooted. All for naught.

Finally, I solved it. It’s all working perfectly now.

The fix: out of sheer desperation, I plugged in a Thunderbolt 3 (USBC) -> Thunderbolt 1/2 (old square socket) adaptor. Then I plugged in a Thunderbolt -> Ethernet adaptor. To create this Frankenkludge:
And it suddenly all just worked! It’s been working perfectly since. I haven’t changed any other settings, I’ve gone back to the original cables and switch I was using at the start, all fine.
So, DVS *does not* like the built-in Ethernet port on the iMac Pro. I don’t why, but that’s the root of the problem.

I, Ryan Ray

Manish Dayal as Ryan Ray - Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 3, Episode 2  - Photo Credit: Tina Rowden/AMC
Manish Dayal as Ryan Ray – Halt and Catch Fire _ Season 3, Episode 2  – Photo Credit: Tina Rowden/AMC

“I, Ryan Ray, released the MacMillan source code.

I acted alone and nobody told me to do it.

I did this because security is a myth.

Contrary to what you might have heard, my friend, you are not safe. Safety is a story, it’s something we teach our kids so they can sleep at night, but we know it’s not real.

Beware baffled humans, beware false prophets who will sell you a fake future of bad teachers, corrupt leaders and dirty corporations.

Beware of cops and robbers, the kinds that rob your dreams. But most of all, beware of each other.

The world is going to crack wide open. There is something on the horizon. A massive connectivity. The barriers between us will disappear, and we’re not ready.

We’ll hurt each other in new ways, we’ll sell and be sold, we’ll share our most tender selves only to be mocked and destroyed. We’ll be so vulnerable, and we’ll pay the price.

We won’t be able to pretend that we can protect ourselves anymore. It’s a huge danger, a gigantic risk, but it’s worth it, if only we can learn to take care of each other, then this awesome new connection won’t isolate us.

It won’t leave us in the end so totally alone.”

– Final statement of Ryan Ray,  December 18, 1986.

Synthfest UK 2016

Synthfest UK - 50

Yesterday, I caught the train up to lovely, leafy Sheffield and had fun wandering around Synthfest UK 2016.

Now, pretty obviously, there were many synthesizers there. Rare old analogue beasts like this EMS Synthi:

Synthfest UK - 48

And the latest digital doodads like this nifty Modal hunk:
Synthfest UK - 17

There were three areas, all of them packed with geeks playing and prodding and eyeing the stacks of modules available for sale. I had a play on the above Modal synth as well as fiddling with various modular setups as I passed. It was just *beautiful* to be able to see so much gear, much of it esoteric, in one place and there to use. I felt a bit stunned, to be honest and I’m sure more than a few fellow geeks I passed had the same glazed expression. We were like tiny, tiny children who’d been let into a toyshop and told we could play with anything. Where do you start?
Synthfest UK - 43

The main hall was filled with the most incredible burbling, bleeping, warbling cacophony of sound. It sounded like Bebe and Louis Barron scoring a Krell riot. The most popular bits of gear had lengthy queues of fidgety suitors, the least popular had a couple of people sitting behind a table, issuing the occasional desultory squawk.

I got to meet a couple of Sound On Sound peeps which was lovely, actually putting faces to names. We had lunch and ranted about various things but I admit, I indulged in a lot of shop talk because, hey, music tech geeks! I couldn’t resist!
Synthfest UK - 47
Then, later, I bumped into my old mate Stephen Bennett who I know from waaay back when I was living in Norwich. And he introduced me to his mate Jarrod, from I Monster. We coffeed and, again, argued vigorously about music tech. It was lovey to catch up with Stephen and meet Jarrod. Got to love someone who can appreciate a fine organ.

Then, back upstairs and back to the stridulations and twiddling. Oh, so much twiddling.

By the time I left, I was knackered and slightly deaf thanks to some geezer doing really heavy tweaking of the Oberheim at the GForce booth. But I was very happy to have been at such a vibrant event, crammed with gear and geeks. There’s a Flickr gallery below that will give a tiny slice of the day:

Synthfest UK - 01

I wonder what they’ll do for Synthfest UK 2017? :-O

 

Pulsar JO437-4715

joe1

I find it outrageous that pulsar JO437-4715 rotates at 173.7Hz.

This is a star almost twice as massive as our sun, whipping itself around, a full rotation every 5.75ms.

What’s the fastest you can spin yourself round? I’m guessing it’s a lot less than 174Hz and you’re considerably smaller than JO437-4715.

I dunno. Astrophysics is more fantastic than most fiction I read.

joe clock

@protozoaradio? – this baby is apparently accurate enough to be used as a clock, it’s accurate to one part in 1015  

Gina Carano

 

I first saw Gina Carano in the utterly brilliant Steven Soderbergh film, Haywire(2011).

I knew nothing about her MMA background then, all I knew is that this woman was utterly convincing as a super-badass agent. Unlike so much fighting in spy / action / superhero films, here was a protagonist who moved like a real fighter: the fluidity, the snakelike striking speed. SO FUCKING AWESOME. But it wasn’t just her fighting chops, she easily held her own against Michael Fassbender and has a wonderful, slow-burning cafe scene with Channing Tatum. And the fight scene with Fassbender?? The most disturbing fight scene I’ve seen since the Krav Maga in The Bourne Identity.

Next time was in Fast & Furious 6 in which she played a taciturn but equally physically capable federal agent. Obviously, she wasn’t the lead in this so there’s not enough Carano screen time. Something I hope will be remedied when she takes the lead in the live-action adaptation of Avengelyne

Avengelyne was the most feared warrior in Heaven’s Warhost, having single-handedly broken into Pandemonium, the outer fortress of Hell, to confront the Devil himself. She is a fallen angel, banished from Heaven by God after being tricked into questioning his love for humans. Avengelyne was stripped of all her angelic abilities, other than her great strength and her blood, which, once extracted from her body, could be used as a weapon or a miracle once empowered by quoting verses from the Bible. Although he appeared truly angry, God was trying to prepare Avengelyne for a coming war for which she would need to be strengthened. (Source: Wikipedia)

Oh yeah. She is going to be magnificent!

And you’ll be seeing her in 2016 in Deadpool as Angel Dust….