Gas station without pumps

2020 July 3

Twelfth video for electronics book

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:41
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I’ve just published my twelfth video for my Applied Analog Electronics book.  This video is for §34.2, which is the first part of Lab 10, and shows how to solder the FETs onto a breakout board.

I filmed the video using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software), and this is the unedited 3rd take. The first take stopped before I did any soldering, because I had forgotten to get blue tape out. The second take was complete, but had garbled sound for the intro and exit music, because I had the mic on while playing the sound, so I got a delayed superimposed sound.

I spent most of yesterday composing the 7 seconds of sound, because it has been a long time since I composed anything or used Finale Notepad. I’m not very happy with Finale Notepad, since it no longer runs on Macs (and so I had to use the “Barbie” laptop), and you can’t record the sound nor print the sheet music (it is deliberately crippled to induce you to buy the full-featured Finale). I got frustrated trying to produce the sound using online MIDI-to-MP3 converters, and ended up looking for another solution. I found MuseScore, which is freeware that runs on macs. I could import the music XML file that I had exported from Finale Notepad, and produce the sound using it—it even has a simple mixer panel that let me change the volume of the different instruments to get a slightly better balance and control the reverberation. I did have to edit the final sound with Audacity, in order to get the initial fade in. If I need to compose another short piece, I’ll try to do the whole thing in MuseScore, since it has more of what I need than Finale Notepad does.

I would upload the audio here, but only allows that if you have a paid plan, which I’ve been too cheap to do—you can hear the music on the YouTube link.

This video is the second one in this series using a green screen, and I’m still having problems with the lighting on my green screen not being uniform enough for OBS—even at night with only artificial light. The chroma key in OBS is nowhere near as easy to use as virtual backgrounds in Zoom. I have found some tricks to make adjusting the key color a little easier, but nothing that really handles the shadows and uneven lighting caused by wrinkles in the green-screen fabric.

2020 July 1

Forty-fifth weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 08:25
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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.

My weight has finally stabilized—I’m not packing on the pounds like I did in March, April, and May.

I’m not quite at my highest weight ever, but I’m about 15 pounds heavier than I want to be.

My exercise has been very limited—I averaged only 0.97 miles a day of bicycling in June (slightly better than the 0.75 miles/day for April and May, but less than a fifth of January), and probably not much more in walking (about 115k steps for the month—again, slightly better than the two previous months, but less than half of January). I have not cycled up the hill to my office for several months now—and bike commuting was my main source of exercise!

2020 June 29

Mad at myself and Zoom

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:29
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Yesterday I was serving as the technician for a Zoom memorial event for my Dad, who died last Wednesday.  My sister handled the MC role, and several of us gave short eulogies.  My task was to share a screen of a slide show before and after the speeches, mute and unmute mics during the speeches, give one speech, and record the session.

I screwed up in two ways:

  • At the beginning of the speeches, I forgot to press the “record” button until a couple of minutes in, in the middle of the first eulogy.
  • At the end, I shared the screen for the post-talk slide show, but accidentally started the pre-talk slide show (which was almost identical), so everyone saw just the initial slide.

Those mistakes are both mine, so why am I mad at Zoom? Mainly because the feedback to the presenter is so poor:

  • The “recording” indicator is tiny, and nothing is shown when not recording, so there is little visual indication that you forgot to start recording.
  • When sharing the screen, the presenter is not shown what everyone else is seeing.  I was seeing the window that was running the slide show, completely unaware that everyone else was seeing a different window.  Zoom had shrunk the chat box, so the message to me that the image was frozen scrolled out of the chat box before I noticed.

I had one job to do … (well really 5, but I screwed up 2 of them).

These were good lessons for me about using Zoom (always scroll the chat box back, even if you are sure you’ve seen everything, always ask for confirmation that the shared screen is what you think it is, always check for the tiny recording indicator if you mean to record), but I sure wish that they had not happened during the memorial for my Dad.

I don’t know why Zoom does not show the presenter what the audience is seeing—having the Zoom window disappear may be a reasonable option, but there should be some way to stop it from happening.


2020 June 22

An alternative to defunding the ploice

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:17
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I think that the “defund the police” movement is addressing the wrong problem—reducing or eliminating their funding will not do much to reduce police brutality and racism.

A more meaningful approach would be to “disarm the police”.  A big part of the problem is that police forces attract boys who want to wave guns around and shoot people with them—take the guns away and you not only reduce the chances of accidentally shooting someone, but you remove the attraction for violent gun nuts to join the force in the first place.

New Zealand has kept their police forces unarmed, and it seems to be working well there, despite some racism.

2020 June 19

Eleventh video for electronics book

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:01
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I’ve just published my eleventh video for my Applied Analog Electronics book.  This video is for part of §27.2, which is the first part of Lab 7, DC characterization of an electret microphone.

I filmed the video using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software), and this is the unedited seventh take. Earlier takes had problems with the order of presentation, technical problems with the green screen, technical problems with the interaction with the Analog Discovery 2, or just stumbles in saying what I intended.

This video is the first one in this series using a green screen, but I found that the lighting on my green screen is not uniform enough for OBS, particularly in a daylit room—I ended up having to do the recording at night so that I could use only artificial light. The chroma key in OBS is nowhere near as easy to use as virtual backgrounds in Zoom.  You can see some problems with the green screen even in the thumbnail shot.

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