The Dream In Which I Invented A New Synthesis UI With The Aid Of Teri Garr and Robert Vaughn

By my standards, this was a pretty ordinary dream. The only thing that makes it stand out is the synthesis part. Well, and my co-inventers but they aren’t really real in the way that an idea can be real although it was dreamt.

Teri Garr is still alive so it’s possible she could have been in my dream through some kind of telepathic link but Robert Vaughn passed away in 2016. While I’ll maybe stretch to telepathy with living people, communicating with the spirit realm is a stretch for a good old fashioned dialectical materialist like me.

In the dream, Vaughn was Napoleon Solo-aged and Garr was pretty much as she appears in the Star Trek episode ‘Assignment Earth.’ But they weren’t their characters, they were just themselves, chatting as actors do about various acting gigs, the perils of local theatre and who was a Method bore.

I was entranced just to be in the same room with them. Thinking back, the room was very TOS-like; grey walls, weird polygonal desk for no reason, the mise-en-scene was very Trek. 

On the table in front of us is a tray. It’s about one metre by seventy-five cm. The edge is lipped to contain what appears to be thousands of gems. When I pick one up, it’s about the shape and size of a Pez but with straight sides at the ends, a point instead of a curve. One face is shiny, silver, metallic. The other is a translucent gemstone. There are various colours of gem and, I now notice, various colours on the tray. Between the zones, there are no hard lines, rather gradations and sometimes subtle stripings of colour.

Garr urges me to move some of the VCO gems around. Then I realise that one of the green piles of gems was the same colour as its base which is labelled ‘VCO 1’. Being a East Coast synthesis sort, I grab a handful of gems and plonk them in an area marked ‘LFO 1.’ Then I touch a the lip of the tray which, somehow, I know is the equivalent of pressing a key on a normal synth. 

Woah! Vibrato! But not much… hmmmm… I take some more VCO gems and plonk them in the LFO area. More depth! AHA! But how the hell do I change the frequency of the LFO or the waveform? I notice that both the LFO and VCO areas have waveforms inscribed in certain areas, sawtooth, square, squiggly. I move some of the LFO gems into the sawtooth area… ahhhh… the vibrato changes to a more squarey stridulation. I’m getting well into this – what else can I heap and where?

It’s at this point of the dream that I’m basically pushing gems all over the place, swirling them with my finger and delighting in what comes out. I’ve gone full West Coast now, NO RAGRETS.

And then… seriously… the synth makes the Emergency Phone noise from The Man From UNCLE. Yes, my brain did this to me.

So, I turn to Robert Vaughn and say, “Hey, it’s that sound from the Man From… oh my god… it’s you! You’re Napoleon Solo!” He looks a little embarrassed and Teri giggles. 

It’s then that my stupid brain makes me realise I am, in fact, naked in a thin dressing gown and my knackers are on full view of these two fantastic actors. Soooo, inevitably, I wake out of my beautiful synthesis dream. 

But what do you think of the interface, eh? It’s doable, isn’t it? We could do it now, virtually, in something like Microsoft’s Hololens. And I’m pretty sure we could do it in real life. If every gem contained an RFID and the table was continuously scanning for their position. I would even add in variables like height-from-table or heat? Anything to give more ways to control the variables. If you weighted them differently, you could sort them quite simply, too, just pour the tray into a sorter. 

Please, someone, make my synth dream come true!

Photography And Power

First, please watch this excellent video by Jamie Windsor: 

So, that video inspired this comment from me:

This is a beautiful, thoughtful commentary and raised a lot of issues for me ~ there is a whole school of photography which is basically neo-colonial and seems to delight in reducing people from non-European cultures into curiosities, into sub-human spectacles. There is no respect for them as people at all. That’s a definite tendency “art” photography still has to address. I’m sure you know the famous photos I’m referring to. 

I agree with your embedded perspective, being *from* the culture but maybe it’s more than that, maybe it’s a question of power relations? A cop taking a photo of me is not the same as me taking a photo of a cop. I know this from taking pics on demos. Similarly, a rich European taking a few days jaunt in an impoverished country, searching for grief porn to capture is definitely exploiting their relative power advantage. 

And THANK YOU for the words about people hiding behind the letter of the law to justify immoral acts. Slavery was legal, rape in marriage was legal, does that mean it was okay to be a slaveowner or a rapist? 

Lastly, I’m guessing you’ve read this but if not, I think you’d appreciate it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_(book)

Destination Star Trek 2018

So, last weekend was the long-awaited DST 2018. When I say long-awaited, I booked the hotel room over eighteen months ago. And then, finally, it was time! Like DST 2016, my bff Nat went with me. This is us: 

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This is the second time DST has been held in the NEC at Brum and it was much better organised than last time. We didn’t have to queue at all for registration and were soon in Hall 5 on Friday afternoon where we saw this: 

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WHAT A MASSIVE HALL! Have Showmasters gone mad? Well, no, Fridays are never busy for DST, it turns out that around 14,000 people were going to attend on Saturday. So, Friday evening was actually a chill day to walk around and grab impulse buys of maybe huge amounts of fudge. 

There are different tiers available for DST but I only ever book the base one; entry and that’s it. This is because although I do love seeing famous Trek actors, I’m not a collector type. I go to DST to hang out with other Trekkies and to make new friends. Or to meet people I’ve chatted with in the online groups IRL for the first time, like this feller: 

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For me, meeting people who UNDERSTAND and laugh when I wave my arms around and shout, “FISH! PROTEIN! FRESH FROM THE SEA!” is delightful. In a life of outsiderness, I feel I belong, just for a weekend.

I met so many lovely geeks, we couldn’t speak fast enough to get our geekness out! We discussed David Warner, James Cromwell, Servalan, Warehouse 13, SAMANTHA CARTER, whether Larry Niven should have got royalties from Microsoft for Halo or is that more of a Banks’ Orbital? 

And then, wandering around the con… LOOK AT ALL THE COSPLAYERS: 

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The feeling of camaraderie, the inclusivity and sheer IDGAFness of Trekkies at DST has to be experienced first-hand to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been with a more mixed bunch of people. I say that after every DST but it both remains true and becomes truer, paradoxically. 

I believe that because Discovery has done so well, Trek is now undergoing a resurgence not seen since the 2009 Kelvin reboot. But, unlike then, DST is up and running, a huge convention that attracts fans from as far away as Australia. A huge number of the Discovery cast were at DST 2018 and judging from the number of Disco tees and full-on cosplays I saw, they can congratulate themselves that the baton has been securely passed to them, no fumbles. Their success has created whole new cadres of Trekkies who’ve gone online, wanting to meet other fans. And now they can do that IRL too. 

So many of the posts I saw were from people who’d never been to any kind of con before at all, like me in 2012 with the first DST. And the follow-up posts I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly positive: the new fans have found the family of Trek. They’ve found that we don’t care if you’ve loved Trek for five minutes or fifty years, if you’re a fan, you’re a fan. (As long as you interact civilly.)

Look at these faces: 

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These beautiful geeks are the reason I went to DST 2018 and will be going to DST 2019. They are my people and I love them! 

Live long and prosper! ??????

Roland MIDI Drivers Break MacOS High Sierra

I have one of the above interfaces. I plugged it in to my iMac Pro which is still on High Sierra still as I am a cautious type (usually) and not yet sure how well Mojave would behave with all my pro audio software. Anyway, I plugged in the interface, searched for it in Audio Midi and… 

Nothing there. All my other interfaces are there, no Roland. 

Hmm. Usually, MIDI thingies are class-compliant ~ they’re just plug and go. Why would Roland release one that isn’t? Oh well, no big deal. So, I head to the site and, sure enough, there’s a driver for Macs. 

I download it and install it, reboot and…

Well, that was around four hours ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to get my iMac to boot to desktop. It boots to the Apple and progress bar but that’s it. The bar fills up, at at about one-tenth its normal speed and then stays stuck at the end. I’ve even left it for an hour, thinking I was being impatient. No change. 

Sooo, okay, I can handle this. Just hold down shift and I can boot into safe mode. Then uninstall the stupid driver. 

Nope. 

I’ve been trying to boot into safe mode for a large part of the last few hours. Whatever Roland’s techs have done, they’ve fucked that ability. 

So, ten minutes ago, I realised this isn’t going anywhere and I booted into Recovery Mode (command-R). 

Now I’m doing a whole fresh install of High Sierra because Roland can’t design a MIDI driver. 

Thanks, Roland! 

Batman Or Twatman

responding to the above meme…

Hmm, I dunno ~ there’s the post-Snyder, ruined Batman who wields machine guns and murders his way through a group of henchmen with nary a qualm. He’s not too clever but is BUFF and A BILLIONAIRE. Er… and… er… that’s it?

Then there’s the guy I grew up reading about, the greatest detective alive as written about by Detective Comics. The hero who refused to kill anyone because he was so traumatised by seeing his parents murdered in front of his eyes. An intellectual who played the fool and used all his power and wealth to fight crime for no reward or recognition. Who realised that he had to actually *take care* of his greatest nemesis because that person was broken and not wholly responsible for his actions, as vile as they were.

tl;dr – Batman wasn’t always a dickhead, blame Snyder.