The fluorescent tube organ, part II

Monday 3 September 2012, 19:18

This is part II in a series. You can start from the beginning, and you can pick up a package of Qucs files to follow along on your own simulated workbench.

The fluorescent tube organ, part I

Monday 3 September 2012, 09:52

Several factors recently conspired to have me dust off an idea I've thought of occasionally for many years. First, I've been having Twitter conversations with some electronics hobbyists in Japan, and even though I gave up on hobby electronics in disgust and discouragement a number of years ago, I'm starting to think that maybe that field is worth another look. Second, I downloaded Qucs. It's an electronics simulation package with a graphical interface that works under Linux, and it's the first such I've found that is actually capable enough to make designing things on the computer a realistic possibility for me. Finally, my current job is ending at the end of the year. The positive side of that is that now I can do whatever I want (if and only if it doesn't require the involvement of any persons other than me); the other side is that my life and my career plans are not going well, I don't see much hope of things getting better soon or ever, and having other things to think about would be nice.

Whatever the reasons, it has come to pass that I'm thinking a lot about this idea I first had many years ago: what about a pipe organ in which the pipes are fluorescent-light tubes?

Understand that I don't just mean a conventional organ (maybe an electronic one with no actual pipes) decorated with lamps in place of the pipes. I mean one in which the special electrical properties of gas-discharge tubes - in particular, their negative resistance - is a meaningful part of the way it makes music.

IDSgrep 0.3

Monday 27 August 2012, 09:13

I posted version 0.3 of IDSgrep last night; follow the link to download it from SourceForge.JP. As you may recall, IDSgrep is my kanji structural-query software. Some of the ideas behind it were discussed on this Web log back in December. The general idea is that this is software to answer queries about layout and visual components of Han-script (Japanese, Chinese, etc.) characters.

The main new things in version 0.3 are support for regular expression searches; the inclusion of a bundled dictionary (based on the IDS decompositions of the CHISE project); and a "cooked" output mode.

At this point I think IDSgrep as such - the search program - is basically finished. As bug reports and practical experience accumulate, there may eventually be a 0.4 or 1.0 release, but all the features I think it needs to have are now in place and it seems to serve pretty well the original purpose for which I needed to develop it.

Comment icon

Tuesday 21 August 2012, 09:48

Hey, anybody have suggestions on what would be a good comment icon? Since I'm moving away from PivotX, I'd kind of like to stop putting the PivotX saw-blade logo on every comment.

Rape is not sacred

Monday 20 August 2012, 07:42

Folks, I'm sick of hearing about Todd Akin. Yes, he said something stupid and ignorant. But religious-conservative politicians do stupid and ignorant things - things that actually directly hurt and kill people - every day. Just saying something, with the only direct real-life consequence being the end of his own career, is not in the same league as let's say passing a Federal budget. There is no comparison.

I've been warning you about people like him for years, and my comments have been generally ignored. Others have been warning you for even more years; some people with views similar to mine get links and re-tweets, but not many, and people like Akin continue getting elected and taken seriously. And when the Net finally does get angry, what makes the Net angry? Not the real-life policies that actually do directly harm and kill people. No, what makes the Net angry and fills my Twitter and Facebook feeds with venom from all quarters is an idiotic throw-away comment that didn't directly harm anybody but Akin himself.

I think Akin is getting special treatment, and his comment is getting publicity far beyond that given the real harms of religious-conservative politics, just because his comment was about rape. And rape is sacred to many of you. It's the one subject that will cause you to discard all sense of proportion and reality.

Rape is not sacred, and I want nothing to do with people who treat rape as sacred.

Site migration... again

Sunday 19 August 2012, 17:44

I'm switching this Web site's underlying software again, mostly due to security, reliability, and performance concerns related to PivotX. I'm trying to do this stepwise without breaking too much, but you may notice some features added, removed, or different over the next few weeks. I think comments here should continue to work, but if not, email me with any problems you notice.

LCD monitor adventures

Monday 23 July 2012, 16:16

I haven't had very good luck with computer hardware, nor operating systems, in the last few months. I lost a hard drive in my main desktop computer at home, and had to replace that (no data loss because it waS RAIDed); the latest Arch Linux "upgrade" made my computer unbootable because the maintainers decided they had to move everything from /lib into /usr/lib and the documented procedure for doing the upgrade safely didn't cover oddball configuration cases like having GCC installed (because who would have that?); and now my LCD monitor is dying.

Tsukurimashou 0.6

Monday 18 June 2012, 13:23

At long last, I've completed the 0.6 release of the Tsukurimashou fonts (project home page). This one contains 1110 kanji, including all those taught in the Japanese school system through Grade Three. Also new in this release are experimental italics and integration with my IDSgrep structural-query software (which has its own, separate release series). Downloads: source code; precompiled fonts; demo PDF files.

On pronouns and UIs

Sunday 20 May 2012, 17:33

Here is an actual quotation that I did not make up, from Microsoft's recommendations on how software should communicate with users:

Use the second person (you, your) to tell users what to do.

Here's one of my own:

Don't tell users what to do.

NoXCF-GIMP: an image editor, not an XCF editor

Saturday 19 May 2012, 18:34

I have forked the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and you can download my version from this GitHub project. See my earlier posting for discussion of why. In few words: mainline GIMP is an XCF editor, not an image editor. My version is an image editor.