Category Archives: Gimcrackery

Nonsense. Bunk. Leftovers. However you want to call it. These posts usually cover my nichijou.

Google Fantasy Maps

Google stands at the crux of having another exciting content platform. All they would have to do is marry their AR / VR offerings with Google Maps.

Today, you have satellite, traffic, and other overlays on Google Maps. These are all functional features that are dead useful. I propose that Google add useless overlays to make Maps an entertainment platform.

To an extent, this already happened with their promotion for Fantastic Beasts. Take it a step further – imagine a creepypasta overlay. Reported Slender Man sightings (complete with subtly photoshopped portions of StreetView), SCP reports from around the globe, and Mowgli’s Palace in North Carolina. Imagine a sci-fi overlay where you can walk ’round Iowa and see the USS Enterprise being constructed. Augment this whole system further with “contributed” videos to complement StreetView.

I know I would sink a lot of leisure time on Google Maps if I could explore Hogwarts Castle or see some of the city-bending of Doctor Strange play out live.

159 – A word about uncredited orchestras

One of my biggest pet peeves is thumbing the liner notes and flipping the jewel case back to front and failing to find a credit for the orchestra. Oh, great, John produced this album, too. Oh, great, John also conduced these cues. Fantastic. How about you tell me who was actually responsible for making these beautiful sounds?

This is most prominent in my Harry Potter selection. I used to have Sorceror’s tagged as John Williams / LSO purely by (mistaken) assumption. I went back, looked, and realized that this was wrong. To this day, Sorceror’s and Prisoner both live with John Williams as the sole credited artist on all tracks. Goblet and Order, thankfully, have the LSO and the Chamber Orchestra of London unambiguously penciled in.

This imbalance has long bothered me, because the purpose of my sticking as close to possible to the urtext of the liner notes has been to faithfully document who was who in the album. It’s not really fair to me (and to my scrobbles) to treat John Williams like a ubiquitous monolith.

Starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I tried something new. I labeled it as Williams (Dudamel) with a ‘”Highly Regarded” Freelance Orchestra.’ The name is taken from a press release describing work on the TFA score. It’s outlandish and unprofessional enough to not be mistaken for something actually given verbatim in the liner notes but satisfactorily descriptive to scratch my documentation itch.

I continued with my three selections from the Nichijou scores. I have volumes 1, 4, and 8 in my collection. The album title is one of those unnecessarily lengthy ones that blow out my player UI when loaded, and it explicitly gives Hungary as their recording location (wow!). Watching the special features on the Blu-rays (that came with my purchase of 1, 4, and 8) corroborated this, but unfortunately I couldn’t discern the name of the orchestra they worked with. At time of writing, Wikipedia retains records of 9 Hungarian orchestras. I found a larger list of 21. Therefore, the final tags are for Yuji Nomi leading “1 of 21 Possible Hungarian Orchestras.” I would be ecstatic to find out which one exactly.

The trend has most recently spilled to Rogue One, tagged as Michael Giacchino (Tim Simonec) with “Enormously Varied Contract Orchestra.” I forget if they were explicitly described as contracted (but I believe they were). The “enormously varied” label comes from the fact that the liner notes actually included a 169-strong roster of the musicians who took part in the score. I gleefully typed them up and saved them as plaintext, but was happy to summarize them as the EVCO (instead of going for the artist gore that I use for operas and Mahler’s 8th).

J39M

157

DAD: Any new and fun side projects?

ME: Yeah, a script that keeps track of digests for a bunch of files. Mostly my pictures.

DAD: Why?

ME: You know, so I can run it every half-year or so to make sure I’ve not got any bit rot.

DAD: And how likely is that?

ME: Not at all. Probably more likely to die in a car crash tomorrow.

DAD: So again, why?

ME: Just in case.

 

So really, I should be turning my efforts to something more productive. I keep telling myself I’ll sit down and slurp in the code base for some project in need, but I never get to it. The candidates are Quodlibet, sway, and dbus.

It’s a testament to the fundamental (though probably exaggerated) faith I have in my hard disk that I gave that hyperbolic example; I’m not even planning to leave the house tomorrow.

J39M

156

Background

I collect the film scores of the Star Wars cinematic universe. Like other things I enjoy, I am unhappy if I discover them incomplete (it happens). There are 3 categories that I reckon with between which incompleteness can happen:

The true film score

This features in the soundtrack of the film itself. It includes splices like the inclusion of the cello-driven “Force” theme (Burning Homestead) in The Ways of the Force.

The album release

This will be on sale at Target, at Walmart, etc. and may be “edited for content and clarity” – not that the packaging is honest enough to tell you so.

The “for your consideration” copy

I took notice of these starting with TFA – MP3 copies of allegedly the true score appear on the Walt Disney Studios Awards site presumably for the convenience of the Academy. I don’t know why this is, though, because physical copies should exist which are mailed to voters. I’ve seen a purported eBay listing for a TFA FYC physical press going for over 400 USD.

I say “allegedly the true score” because the folks at JWfan are quoted as saying that these should follow the exact presentation of the music in the film, and especially no concert arrangements. This can’t be true, though, because the Burning Homestead bit appears exactly nowhere and for some reason the end credits suite is missing a lot of material. Huge extended portions of Rey’s theme, what sounds like a spliced version of The Bombing Run, and I think slightly longer March of the Resistance all feature in the true film score and not in the FYC. (March of the Resistance is already slightly extended for the FYC, but I think the true film score gives it even more. I should check.)

The matter at hand

I finally got around to rigging PulseAudio for loopback capture (it’s ridiculously easy with pavucontrol). I pulled up my digital copy of TFA on YouTube (came with my Blu-ray purchase and I haven’t even touched the surface of Blu-ray decrypting, let alone extraction) and relived my childhood of hooking a 3.5mm male-to-male cable from line out to line in. I mixed in the album copy of The Jedi Steps and voila! The true film version of The Jedi Steps and Finale can now be added to my collection.

This is hardly ideal – god knows what quality playback I achieve with the YouTube copy and how much a hit it takes when I capture it from my output – but it’s certainly a huge step forward. It’s also a very acceptable stopgap until I can procure the necessary hardware (and learn the software) for Blu-ray extraction.

J39M

153: 2 Momentousness

Of music

Screenshot from 2016-07-09 23-50-53

Figure 1: a graph of my stats on libre.fm after their great database crash in late June. However, the drop to 0 had nothing to do with that – that was the duration of my trip to Japan.

Screenshot from 2016-07-22 22-48-25

Figure 2: a graph of my stats now that I have begun work.

I took another step toward becoming an acceptable member of society on 2016-07-11. My scrobbles have stoically suffered accordingly. Gone are my lazy days of sitting at home, whiling the hours away with endless playlists. Gone is my freedom to saddle my ears and disappear into the music while working. These two graphs are to be remembered: their shapes together demarcate two huge portions of my life. My identity as a student reached its peak when the music disappeared; then the music came charging back in like a long-overdue tide (that is not how tides work but please ignore my rhetoric) for one last hurrah before it dropped off to pre-university levels abruptly. And so I shed my undergraduate skin to emerge as a bruised (yet pitifully, wholly unchallenged) functional adult.

Of reading

Before starting work, I flung myself to the halfway-mark of The Two Towers (a little ways into book 4). When conscription peeked over the horizon (about a week’s clearance, I think), I put it on hold and picked up the borrowed copy of Leningrad: Siege and Symphony and got about 200 pages (out of 500) in. The rest I finished during bus rides to and from work. I plan on finishing The Lord of the Rings, then moving onto Steve Jobs. From there I still have 1Q84 and Code Warriors.

Of watching

I went to see Finding Dory last weekend; it was good! I look forward to Star Trek Beyond in a few weeks; by then, hopefully Fantastic Beasts and Doctor Strange will ramp up advertising. I will polish off the year with Rogue One – realistically, seeing it in late January.

Of working

I’m 2 weeks in. I feel good about things. The usual anxiety is still there, but nice people do wonders for the nerves. I can rise every morning and look forward to getting into the office – so that’s winning, isn’t it?

J39M

152: Chase Bank

tl;dr WHITELIST chasecdn.com IN NOSCRIPT.

I returned from abroad a week and three days ago. It was around that time that I noticed Chase Online Banking stopped working for me, though it worked just fine on the burner computer I carried with me while away from home. I wasn’t terribly worried until a few days ago when I realized that this supposed outage (for that was what the webpage informed me it was) had been going on entirely too long without any ripples on either Google News or Twitter. Was this a problem specific to me?

I called up customer support and predictably achieved no real results. They fed me a presumable red herring by waffling about some known issue that their technicians were fixing. But at least Suzanne was honest to tell me directly that there was no systemwide outage that they knew of, and so the problem was probably on my end. (Hubris erroneously told me otherwise.) It only occurred to me today to change up my approach to see if I could isolate the problem.

First I went back to my burner computer (SL7 with Google Chrome on permanent incognito mode). I was thunderstruck when I logged in without issue. Second, I repeated this feat on my normal workstation with Firefox Nightly. This ruled out Chase implicitly blacklisting Linux or Firefox setups. I hung my head in shame. The fault was mine, then.

I cleared my cache, cleared out my Chase cookies, and restarted Firefox. No good.

Some devil or angel whispered in my ear and I glanced at NoScript while the redirection transitioned me from a spinner-on-blank-page to the boilerplate outage page. I managed to catch sight of NoScript blocking out one chasecdn.com. I added the same to my whitelist. Login, success! facedesk.

Let this story remind me from time to time that just because I know how to clear my cache and cookies (and also know what both of those are) doesn’t mean I get to assume nothing is ever my fault.

J39M

151: The flaglock digest

2016-05-24 (0)

  • “The TigerAir flight (IT202) sounds like an airborne leafblower”

2016-05-25

  • “Oyakodon for breakfast via meal voucher”
  • The baumkuchen salesgirl near Senso-ji gave me such a bemused look when I tried to speak English to her – the first actual true-to-life headtilt I’ve ever seen
  • “Izakaya for dinner – delicious tuna && Atlantic salmon (downside: smoke & noise)”

2016-05-26

  • “Oedo-onsen Monogatari holy shit”
  • “Traumatic nudeness lol”
  • “Yukatas!”
  • “Yamanote line rush hour @ 2300”

2016-05-28

  • “Harajuku weirdness esp. the Harajuku Roll”

2016-05-29

  • “Ikebukuro (cerca) local university hosting an international cosplay cup with some lovely Sabers – the red / white one was pretty good at acting, as was her outlandish opponent; both were amazing at running on heels”
  • “yielding shaft seat so Akiba-bound trio could sit together – successfully avoided eye contact and made their gratitude weird”

2016-05-30

  • “Had my first ‘back in undergrad’ dream this morning”
  • “Shosen book tower – 9F is all ecchi++ lol”
  • “of some lady in an ad on-screen:

    THIS LADY looks old –
    yes, older than my mother.
    Yet there is moe.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2016-06-02 (9)

  • “from yesterday: harmony of a Gora-bound night train:
    • Db
    • Bb
    • F_{E}
  • “0821: Gora-bound morning train. 2nd car is filled with hat-wearing schoolgirls (not pictured for obvious reasons)”
  • “Strangely Swiss-feeling two-car Gora-bound train took us home @ 20:48. Disregarding possible staff change, our guard as of Miyanoshita [kanji here] was very kind. He left his post for a bit to help out some lost tourists looking for ‘the hotel.’ We were delayed about five whole minutes for this. But it was heartwarming.”

2016-06-03

  • “Cemetery shortcut to Kowakidani Station.”
  • “People give English-speakers some bemused looks. But at least the most basic phrases suffice for convenience-store interactions.”