Getting started. Never finished.

Some thoughts on music

Thoughts I jotted on my whiteboard after taking a walk and listening to the On Being interview with Yo-Yo Ma.  


Grand Doodling

And right as I started doing this, both kids were drawn to the pen and the ink.   

It’s okay to judge a CD by its title

Scott Barkan just touring with Marian Call, in a small Pacific NW ramble that included my library. He accompanied her on guitar and sang a few of his own songs after a break between sets.

Fairly obvious why a fledgling nerd would be drawn to this album, yes?



When you gather the first clutch of grapes from your own garden, you realize that in your hands rests something that painters, poets, and vintners have spent centuries competing to capture. And here it is, harvested at your home.


Something small from someone amazing

So that keytar, that I could only get to blink LEDs, after many attempts to get sound in a predictable way. When I pinned it on in Sacramento, a little defeated by the things I couldn’t resolve, I decided just to try. I tweeted a picture of it to Howard Jones. Much to my surprise, he favorited it and retweeted it a few hours later. And then he called it out from the stage.

He did sign it, in the post-concert nanosecond that was afforded for meet-and-greet. (And I, quite embarrassingly, effectively blew off Tom Bailey in the process.) I saw his stagemates after that, and they told me they could see the LEDs from the stage and were impressed that I had made it.

And today, a week after the show, Howard posted a capture of my Tweet, now a week old, and captioned it “awwwww.”

Whatever failure I felt about not getting it right in time – it’s gone. I’ll just move on and work on something else that will utilize that concept. Not under the thumb of the cynical few, or laden down by the doom crew. True as it ever was.

Sometimes you have to spend your lunch break making a keytar.

Today, apparently, was one of those times.


Next steps: sewing on LilyTwinkle, LEDs, and battery. Velcroing onto stiffened felt. Adding safety pins. And then watching Howard Jones play a real orange keytar.

Partitions and the choices we make

I started a new job in the past month. Since my work schedule includes an hour-long lunch break, I bought myself a MacBook Air to celebrate and to have a way to work on some personal projects during that time. (Yes, I’m a librarian, but I can’t just read during lunch. I find if I haven’t done something with my hands, I don’t feel like I’ve really had a break. And one can’t knit *all* the time.)

The keytar tie project I posted earlier seemed to fail. The first point of failure seemed to be the piezo; I stripped the wire off a standard piezo, sewed it in, but got no sound. I decided to purchase the speaker/buzzer that is part of the LilyPad lineup.

But that didn’t work. So, I decided I needed to rip everything out – and that was a lot of handsewing with conductive thread – and test my components with alligator clip connections.

Nothing. Not even Ye Olde Blinke would work.

And thus began a Beverly Crusher Moment that I’m still in.

It turns out that Mavericks (good grief, do I hate that name) has its own FTDI driver that prevent the USB ports from working the way you need them to for Arduino projects. The weird thing is that I had installed my own FTDI driver, but Apple must have pushed out an update that overwrote it.

Following advice on the Arduino forums, I disabled Apple’s FTDI driver and reinstalled the recommended ones. Now the proper ports show up for transferring code to the Arduino board, but the process just hangs. And hangs. And never completes.

I’m at the point where I’m strongly considering partitioning the drive, installing Mint Linux 17, and using that for Arduino tinkering.

Of course, the intermediate step is testing the USB/micro cable to see if it suddenly sprung a leak (ha ha). Let’s apply a little Occam’s Razor logic, after all.

But this much work for a relatively small project, all because my computer of choice thinks it knows what functionalities I want better than I do – that is frustrating, and makes me wonder why Mac should continue to be my computer of choice.

Um, squee!!

I was just gifted with this!

…which one can only receive from BoingBoing editors.

Progress: Keytar tie

After some initial not-so-great moves on the first attempt, progress on the keytar tie. One thing I noted: the design of the LilyPad places the pos and neg pins together, which doesn’t work well for designs where your components are in a small space. In this case, I am losing access to three or four pins. The LilyPad could be turned so the pos/neg is at the bottom, but then I would have a difficult time attaching the USB cable if I wanted to make code changes once the tie is sewn up.

The orange felt piece will go on the front, and the conductive fabric buttons will line up. I have black and white felt to add “keys.”


Because an 80s geek in 2014…

Is going to make an Arduino-based keytar tie, not a piano tie.