Sunday, October 4, 2015

Linac Coherent Light Source biological applications

I managed to find one article about this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ironic: Emacs is native on OSX, not Ubuntu

Old News.  Just as troubling as ever.

I have yet to find a GNU/Linux distro on which Emacs is natively available, out of the box.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Emacs tool for browsing audio files

In this post on another blog of mine I posted emacs lisp code for a tool, which I boldly stole from dired-mplayer: dired-vlc.  Vlc is an excellent video player.  The code I posted allows one to rapidly and immediately play a video file/clip in Emacs dired, the directory browsing tool that I like the best. 

I have some video files, wav and mp3, and I wish to sort them.  So I edited the above mentioned code, and saved it to the file dired-audacious.el.  It was unbelievably easy and speedy to browse through the dozens of files, and delete the unwanted ones. 

In the above linked post, I mentioned another tool I cobbled together from other people's code, an improvement to org-mode's time marking code, to enable me to save a time mark within the video I am watching and type notes.  From these I have been able to easily compile indexes to videos and clips, for teaching purposes.  Dired-vlc was crucial. 

Here is the code for dired-audacious.  It works only if one runs linux and has audacious installed as a sound player.  

;==== %<===== Begin dired-audacious.el  =========
(require 'org)

(defvar dired-audacious-program "/usr/bin/audacious")

(defun dired-audacious (&optional timer)
  "Asynchronously start vlc on file through dired.  If an optional
argument is given (C-u), the org relative timer is started.  This
function purports to start vlc in rc mode, to leave open the
possibility of remote control."
  (interactive "P")
  (let ((file (expand-file-name (dired-get-filename)))
        ext files basename dir curr-file ;idx-file sub-file srt-file
    command options)
    (setq basename (file-name-nondirectory
            (file-name-sans-extension file)))
    (setq dir (file-name-directory file))
    (setq files (directory-files dir t basename))
    (delete file files)
    (setq command (format "\"%s\" \"%s" dired-audacious-program "--intf rc"))
    (if (y-or-n-p (format "Run command %s?" command))
        (start-process "junk" nil dired-audacious-program file)))
  (if (equal timer '(4)) (org-timer-start))

;; end dired-audacious.el

For explanation, please contact me

Search: Pencil Point Protectors

In days of yore, metal pencil caps were found at an art supply store.  I want some.  Amazingly, like most truly useful things, they are not easy to find.  Today is not the first day I have enlisted Google to search for some, or some way to make them.  Here's a little of what I found.  Dick Blick's art supply has some, at least online.

  • Plastic Save-A-Point pencil caps.   These are all I found at Aaron Brothers.  They are crap.  Do not buy them unless you only sharpen pencils with a cheap plastic hand held sharpener.  The well sharpened point will protrude through the small hole at the point of the cap, and be easily broken off, or poke you.  
  • DIY Paper point protectors 
  • Jetpen has three or four varieties of point protectors
  • Maybe Dick Blicks would have metal ones
  • Plastic models (General Pencil?) at Aaron Brothers
  • I think there may be a design on thingaverse for 3D printers.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trying to read Ebooks is an unpleasant experience

We were standing in line for food, when I had the brilliant idea that I would check a book out to read on my "phone."   In the fortnight or so since, I have expended at least four hours trying to reach the bottom; trying to figure out why I have not been able to download and read this book.  Passwords are only part of the story, but a significant and most unpleasant part.

This is a LINk to an article exploring the difficulties involved in reading and checking out ebooks from libraries.  Should I bill the time I spent reading (or, better, skimming) this article to the publishers?  I am losing patience.  These companies, and not only these companies, believe it is their God-given right to harm the public if it needs to do so to preserve and protect their profit lines.  I am certain we have not gotten to the end of this trouble.   It depends on whether we roll over for these behemoths.

I reset my Overdrive password, in order to download a book to a phone.  Later, I was told that this book is checked out to me under a different (if I understand correctly) password, and I must log in using the forgotten password to remove it.   This may or may not actually be a faithful rendition of what happened, but to me, it is close enough to the truth that I don't know how to go about trying to understand it, and resolve it.

I have, in this period of about a fortnight, tried several more times to download that book, but I fear the cause is lost.  I did download another book.

I've looked at forums.  Ive tried various procedures.  I've read and followed instructions on websites.  This would all go away, if passwords and draconian IP schemes did not exist.

I know I'm not the only one.  When do we accuse the promulgators of these schemes of treason, in bringing down the common man and making him a criminal for wanting to read a book?  Why was printing invented originally?  To create a profit-making empire?  And when the scribes were put out of business, did they sue the printing press makers for loss of wealth?

And not the least am I offended when I learn that Overdrive (a conspiratory program involving Adobe) does not work with Linux except using a Windows emulator, Wine?  Am I the only one who is utterly incensed by the state our economy and culture have been coerced into, in the name of the good of commerce?

Even Presidents seem to exist to blow the horns of the corporations.

When my friends and family read this, I fear they will mock my position.  I am not being a good boy.  Just the same, I cannot read the same book unless I install a windows emulator to my superior system.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Guitar Journey

What is it about the Guitar?  My Mother made sure we were exposed plenty to music.  For me, that meant, a few years of Piano lessons, Clarinet in school, and quite alot of Marimba, even in High School, when Piano and Clarinet had pretty much fallen off the edge of the world.  Of course, I would always love to pound on the Piano.   We always had a bunch of music around the house.  From toys to aging instruments someone picked up along the way---none of us, to my knowledge, ever took up the zither or mandolin that we had around.  

Truman Eugene Davis, Sr., my grandfather was a musician of some skill.  He played a few songs for us (I don't remember him playing the guitar, but I could not swear under oathwheter he played  Clementine or some of those other traditional songs on his banjo, or a guitar).  He had "sweet potatoes" (also called Ocarina) around the house.  I don't know how many of us ever saw him play the saw, as I did at the Christmas parties of the Exchange Club, to which he took me some years.  He bought a pretty nice Baldwin organ later on, and played on it, maybe even took lessons.  Mom, who was an excellent organist, played it, even to the point she was often accused of shirking the dishwashing responsibilities after family holiday dinners---I would say unfairly, because her playing was so fine, and, in my mind, an important element of those celebrations.  

What is Perfect Pitch?

Grandfather gifted me a ukelele.  I don't know which birthday or Christmas; there is a photograph around that would settle that.  We were at our house on Kenwood Road. He taught me to tune it: you know the drill, "My dog has fleas."  Recently I wondered whether I had those pitches down.  In other words, do I have any claim to perfect pitch, which has gone undeveloped in me, I fear. 

So I got out a tuning app on my android phone and sang the pitches: "My Dog Has Fleas."  Wow!   They were dead on.  I think to get the full effect of this training, I have to trick myself, though.  Some times I have been way off.  That one time, now I am in my 60s, was dead on.

Oliver Sachs, in _Musicophilia_, refers to that a large percentage of Chinese, speakers of a tone language, have perfect pitch.  He also refers to absolutely perfect pitch that has driven composers mad when they lost it, later in life.

I learned a few chords on the Uke, and could play a few songs.  I never took it very seriously, though.  I have recently read an interesting book on the history of the Ukelele: Jim Tranquada and John King. 2012. The Ukelele: A history. Honolulu: U Hawaii Press. There is a good deal of information in this book, as well as several articles available as pdfs online by these authors. 

My Guitar

 With all the music around me, and various instruments at my disposal, why I took to the Guitar with such keen enthusiasm, I will never know.  It is with me.  I bought my first guitar with money I earned at the family bakery.  This would have been in Junior High or early High School.  It was a crude plywood guitar, with strings that tortured the fingers.  But I fell at it.  My dream guitar would have been a two necked Carvin electric guitar. 

At that time, all I wanted, in terms of instruction, was a chord chart.  My friend Bill Coker did teach me two songs I learned, though:  _A Soulin_, by Peter, Paul and Mary, and _Baby Let Me Follow You Down_, by Bob Dylan.  

Later, when finally I bought a guitar from a friend, it was a classical guitar with nylon strings.  It was at this time, during my second year in College, while living at Grandmother's house, that I determined I started playing songs.  All I can say about that is that eventually I determined that my hands were unsuited for the guitar, but I would persevere anyway.  I determined that my fingers were too short, and their reach was too limited to enable me to perform the contortions required for truly interesting chords.  I saw the guitar as an instrument of chords; I still do, to a great extent.

On Saipan, cousin Mike Davis (since deceased) sent me a surprize in the mail.  We had hardly seen one another over the years.  He said I taught him some of the first riffs that got him started on the guitar.  I don't remember it much, unfortunately.  One day, on my 60th Birthday, he sent an email telling me that I had a package waiting at the Post Office.  He had just made a CD, and I hoped it was a copy of that.  But when Bob, the Post Office guy, went out to the back to retrieve my parcel, he rolled it out on a cart: and what do you think it was?!   A guitar!  

It was a Martin.  A "Little Martin."  I still have it, and will continue to do so until someone prys it out of my dead hands.  I had mentioned to Mike and Alicia that Fe has small hands, that I would have liked Fe to have a small guitar like Alicia's so we could play together.  Wow!  It was made of High Pressure Laminate, like some of Martin's guitars are today.  Mike felt that in the humidity of the tropics, it would stand up better.  The neck was the thing, though.  It was made of ripped strips of two kinds of wood, laminated together.  The fretwork was what made it great for me: I finally had a guitar that I could play a complicated chord and it sounded like that chord! 

Guitar Lessons

When William started taking Piano lessons, Fe wanted to take guitar lessons, something I definitely encouraged.  Within a month, she was reading music.  I don't think I had ever made that connection---that guitar music would necessarily be represented on a staff!   I was, frankly, jealous.  All those years, I never learned to read a single note.  I don't think I even realized that the strings were tuned to EADGBE.   I was having a great time tuning the Martin, and even the old Fender acoustic that Fe was using for the lessons. 

I signed up too.  That was something I had to learn.

At my first lesson,I told Ryan, our teacher, that I could never be a good guitar player, because of my small hands and stubby fingers.  He said, "Let's match hands!"  My Gawd, his hands were a near match to my own, and he plays guitar fantastically.  This was an eye opener for me, probably the most important thing I learned from taking lessons.  I learned some modicum of music reading skills, of course.  But this was when I started challenging myself to play complicated chords.  Ryan emphasized the need to learn the names of the chords, and to some extent I did.  To me, though, the Guitar continues in some way to transcend theory, note names, and written forms.  Of course I know this is untrue.  Not only that, I am somewhat obcessed now with Guitar theory.  Maybe because I don't understand it.

If only I had paid attention to the theory workbooks I was forced to do for Mr. Molay's piano lessons. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Elizabeth Irene Martin Davis 1923--2015

Remembering my mother is less constant than her attention was to me, when I was helpless to care for myself.  Like an ambush, the remembrance happens at an unexpected time, without warning.   I wrote this Haiku this morning, intending it as a comment to her obituary in the Santa Barbara News Press.  Who would expect that these signings of the guest book for the obituary would expire and disappear in one month?

First lupine of spring,
First evening star, the dawn,
Losing my Mother.

Written on 26 May 2015.  One day after the Memorial Day holiday, 2015.

Friday, March 27, 2015

3D Printed Lab Ware article

PLOS (Public Library Of Science) Biology Blog: 3D Printing Labware:
Open Labware: 3-D Printing Your Own Lab Equipment, by   This has come up before.  This article gives a fresh look.  I notice that the precision of a printed pipetter depends upon the precision of the printer.

Make magazine had an issue in 2014 with reviews of several 3D printers.

One of the most fantastic developments of the Maker community is the development of "open source" libraries of digital blueprints.  One of the most obvious is Thingiverse.  Thingaverse is connected with Makerbot, a manufacturer and developer of printers.   William's 6th grade class had two Makerbots, as well as a scanner.  

Thingiverse (as an example) is first of all a library of digital blueprints for 3D printable objects.  Plans are "open source": the plans are downloadable, executable on a printer, and MODIFIABLE.  Even more fantastic, modified and improved plans are uploadable.   Commericalization is already apparent in the world of 3D printing.  To what extent this is enabling, and supports further innovation, is an open book, but my opinion is that close source, proprietary "innovation" is problematical.  Copyright issues, according to Wikipedia's article about the Thingaverse, are already cropping up.

Here is a link to what appears to be a "microscope collection" at Thingaverse.  Wow.

My spirits are lifted by the stories of collaboration to improve designs, or to adapt openly contributed designs for one's specific need.  For example, I want to print (when I have a printer) a microscope and a macroscope for my cell phone, and to adapt one of them to fit the objective lense of my own microscope.  In mere months, I have seen a large number of improvements in designs for these kinds of Things appear on thingiverse.

At Ace Monster Toys, a maker space in Emeryville, CA, I understand, a 3D Printer Interest Group exists, where members help one another to make printers.   William has a Raspberry Pi (RP).  The next step is an Arduino.  Several 3D printer designs rely upon the Arduino as the controller.   We are looking for an affordable display for the RP.