360º Views from the Surface of Mars(!!!)

These are fun on your computer, and absolutely immersively astounding on your phone/tablet. The future is here, but unevenly distributed—with some portions dune-buggying around Mars, picking at rocks and wrecking up the joint.

Consider this your daily reminder that, in contrast to how things were when I was a kid, Mars is now populated—and it’s ruled by robots!

NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover at Namib Dune (360 view) – YouTube

(props to Terence Hawkins for just messaging me about a typo; that cat writes good books)

Josh Burker’s Scratchbox Turntable

Josh Burker—an early reviewer of my latest DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band—didn’t just build a sweet-ass Scratchbox (although he did do that)

Josh went one better and adapted it to a hella rad turntable interface.




I love this sooooo much! Check it out:

Wanna build your own Scratchbox (or Scratchbox-inspired awesomeness)? Check out my full illustrated Scratchbox build instructions on the MAKE magazine website.

For a brief history of the credit card magstripe that makes this all possible, check out the first bit of this Planet Money podcast: Episode 695: Put A Chip On It : Planet Money : NPR:

(thx Josh!)

Showed my 9yo the ROGUE ONE trailer….

… He asked, “Why are all the new Star Wars about girls?” I pointed out that the first six weren’t. It was immediately clear to him that it made little sense for 3/4 of the stories to almost exclusively focus on 1/2 the population. This caused him 0 misery or cognitive dissonance. He said, “Oh, yeah,” and moved on with his life.

DEAR MEN OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE, DRINK, AND OWN GUNS: Please take a cue from your young sons—or brush up on your math—and chill the fuck out.

Thank you; that is all.

A Hundred Low-Wage Jobs Won’t Save Detroit (UPDATED)

shinola shoe polish

When former president Bill Clinton—said to own more than a dozen Shinola watches—dropped by, he propped it up as a homespun model for the rest of the country: “We need more American success stories like Shinola in Detroit,” he said.

[Shinola founder] Kartsotis contemplated buying the dust-coated park, turning it into a model for sustainable living, and using any proceeds to support nearby Native American communities. But as he and his family were packing up to leave, a friend who had caravanned with them made what seemed like an outlandish proposal: “If you want to do something to help,” he said, “you should go to Detroit.”

[Source: The Real History of America’s Most Authentic Fake Brand]

In terms of “taking down” Shinola, this article is interesting for two conspicuous blind spots:

  1. It says nothing about the watches themselves—which watch folk have criticized for years as nothing special.  A decent watch, sure—a solid Swiss movement in a nice Chinese case, assembled in Detroit—and basically worth the money as an intro-level luxury watch, but nothing to shout about, really.
  2. Fully accepting that Shinola founder Kartsotis came to Detroit “to do something to help.”  Shinola pays $12/hr.  While that’s above Michigan’s minimum wage, it still hovers between a living and poverty wage in Detroit.  There are a lot of things an incredibly rich white man could do to “help Detroit.” Adding 100 low-wage jobs is pretty fucking minimal.

Continue reading “A Hundred Low-Wage Jobs Won’t Save Detroit (UPDATED)”

Meet the New Site! (Same as the Old Site)

I’ve finally finished migrating my site from my old (and somewhat outdated) host to NearlyFreeSpeech.net!  Callooh! Callay!

Not much to shout about over at my homepage (although a lot of work went into keeping things basically exactly the same #sighs), but the blog (as you can see) has gotten a major facelift, including “responsive design,” so that it’s thoroughly readable on mobile devices.

I’ve spent a lot of time patching and mending over the last couple weeks, but there are bound to be links, widgets, and images that I missed, or which were hopelessly bunged up by the migration assistant (shifting hosts also necessitated switching to actual modern blogging software; many benefits, but damn has it been a pain in the ass).  Find something broken? Gimme a heads-up. Thanks!

Nifty (and Cheap!) All-in-One 386 Audio Amplifier

Kudos to alert reader Drew Stafford for pointing out this little guy:

That’s compact little ready-to-use LM386-based amplifier, ready for you to add input, speaker, and power (a 9volt battery will do ya), all for under $5, with free shipping (i.e., not a lot more then what you’d pay for components to build such an amplifier yourself). Pretty slick!

*Thanks Drew!*

Dave-o on the Radio (and new DIY freebies)!

Jefferson Public Radio interviewed me last month about DIY musical instruments; you can hear that here: Music From Your Junk Drawer | Jefferson Public Radio FUN FACT: It wasn’t until the last minute that I learned this was a radio call-in show (!!!) Had a very bad moment as I sat on hold, waiting to go live, and flashed on all of the “longtime listeners” I’d heard call-in and harangue NPR hosts over the years (none of which came to pass; there was one caller, he was on-topic and totally lovely).

*BONUS*: We’ve added another project to the free DIY Jam Pack, which now includes full instructions on building a single-string electric guitar, an amp, and a Droid Voicebox voice synth. Please feel free to share that link and spread the love; the more folks building their own instruments, the better!

The Rejected Soundtrack to THE EXORCIST is Fantastic and Fantastically Unnerving

The full story is over at Dangerous Minds (The terrifying rejected ‘Exorcist’ soundtrack the director literally threw out a window | Dangerous Minds), but to cut to the chase, here’s the full rejected score–which I find really quite listenable:

(Aside: Now that I hear it again, this puts me in the mind of John Adams’ beautiful elegy for the victims of 9/11, On the Transmigration of Souls–enough so that I sorta wonder if he ever listened this score. At any rate, even if this score doesn’t appeal, Adams’ piece really is one to listen to, again and again and again.)

Also included in that above-linked Dangerous Minds article is the original “banned” trailer for THE EXORCIST, which used this rejected score.

FUN FACT: Dave can’t watch THE EXORCIST. I’ve read the book, seen one or two of the sequels, but I can’t get more than ~30 minutes or so into the original film (in theaters or on video) before having a panic attack[*] and having to quit. Likewise, I can’t watch that trailer, despite it being just 1:41. I couldn’t even finish the first minute.

Continue reading “The Rejected Soundtrack to THE EXORCIST is Fantastic and Fantastically Unnerving”