Amazing Home Energy Saver

I recently bought a new home and I recalled an amazing site.  You get out of this what you put into it, but ultimately you will get, in order of return on investment, the best upgrades /repairs for your money to save energy.   I can’t understate how helpful this is for identifying and allowing you to decide how to save both money and energy usage in your home.   They have a quick set of questions, or you can dive into the full section, but expect to invest an hour of time or more depending on the complexity of your home.   See for yourself!


Interesting Read on how the Grammys does the Audio for the show..

As a professional sound engineer, I find myself throwing my hands in the air during large events when things just sound bad or some severe mistake is made.  The 2012 superbowl was the first that I went off well and sounded great compared to years past.  The Grammys have one heck of a setup that you might appreciate, check it out:

Analysis of 50 years of Pop Music: What makes a song a hit?

imageI have no idea if any of you would find this interesting; I sure did.  A team analyzed the last 50 years of US pop songs, to see what makes a song a top hit..    

They found songs that are close to 120 Beats per minute seems to be the magic BPM  for the last 50 years! Plus major keys dominate the charts, make the song danceable, are about 4.5 minutes in length, and turn it up to 11.   Some things to think of when you are choosing songs and want to keep the energy going..

Here are some screen shots from a few of the things looked at:

The main page that explains what was done is here:

I would add a personal observation;  most of the top songs that I have listened to require careful listening..  Pick most top pop song playing, and listen carefully… not to what is obvious in the mix (vocals, instruments etc.) but there is almost always some sort of sound that is either ½ (or less) of the volume of the rest of the instruments or is louder than everything.  It is usually short in duration – or a *very* simple accent note,  happens once per music phrase or measure.  You won’t notice it unless you are actively listening (concentrating..)    My theory is that it is music for the ‘subconscious” part of our brain.. for some it can be sound effects as long as they are introduced and removed selectively..  which is what I do when I run sounds for bands I do this to provide additional interest (sprinkling of delay, mic volume accents.)   It is also why having a good speaker to reproduce the high frequencies is key to interest (as well as preventing ear fatigue)  the ride cymbal accents, snare accents, high-hat accents on certain songs for example are extremely important.  It’s the extra muted “chuck” on a guitar that gets inserted in certain phrases etc.   So on the surface a song is simple, but decomposed it has nuisances that break up the symmetry.  It gives our musical brains something to chew on..   Know knows, this could be completely bogus. 

What do you think?

An example that I wasn’t totally happy with, but..

#25 –  congos

#24 – on the right channel there are two things: guitar two notes – but more importantly on upbeat of the 4th beat of the song there is a slight “scratch ”or a sweep of frequencies sound. Its is hard to hear, but it’s right before the 1st beat begins.

high-hat open

#23 – i hear a guitar harmonic hit once in a while, almost banjo like

#22 – not hearing anything in the section they chose to play

#21 – guitar arpeggio ?

#20 – right channel high-hat

#19 – ?

#18 – FX (delays)

#17 – backup vox

#16- backup vox

#15 – triangle

#14 – FX (delay)

#13 – bass guitar fretless sound

#12 – this one is hard to hear:  I think it is a backup vox that hits twice on a high pitched “hohw” “Hohw”

#11 –congos

#10 – jazz organ

#9 – flange

#8 – strings

#7 – there is a keyboard echoing the phrase in a high octave

#6 – swish sound  and a block hit

#5 – high-hat  open.. delay

#4 – guitar that comes in right before it ends

#3 – banjo

#2 – ?

#1 – high-hat work (alternating open/closed)


Ok, so here I digress, but I LOVE music, sound etc.. so just some additional geek thoughts for you. Maybe reading about this might make you a better musician, better listener, or maybe you might understand a little better of the approach I take when I am running sound for band. I am not the technical guy who lines up the meters at 0 for all mics, and freaks out when the band’s dynamics change from song to song. That is a technical sound engineer. There is gear to help minimize the various if the gain structure is set right. Running sound is also a bit of an art. I bring up certain mics (besides the obvious solos) on certain songs.. cymbals, high-hat etc. I try to recreate what I hear in my mind for that song. Each band has a different blend, and I try to incorporate that some in each song a cover band plays. Not all songs because sometimes it just doesn’t matter, but other times it does! It is not just making sure everything is heard by the audience and musicians, it is something more.

New Super Green Rice

imageIt never ceases to amaze me what geneticists are able to do: Rice bred to perform well in the toughest conditions where the poorest farmers grow rice is a step away from reaching farmers thanks to a major project led by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

ShapeShifting TouchScreen in the works..

Interesting….. Microsoft this week filed a patent application covering a novel way to construct a "tactile" touchscreen – a display that uses technical tricks to convince users they are actually touching the ridges, bumps and textures of a displayed image.  It uses UV light ..

Laws of Physics May Vary..

Next time you head to a different universe, keep in mind the laws may be different that you know them here.  New study is suggesting many of the constants aren’t so constant.

Have a Laptop? Excellent Utility for finding or Diagnosing Wireless Networks

image   What most people don’t know is that the majority of wireless networks provided by U-Verse, cable, etc companies are mostly using the same channel.  It means your network will work slowly if at all.  This is a great tool for finding how many wireless networks might be interfering, or for finding a hot spot quickly. check it out!

20 Years Sound Reinforcement – Hearing Damage?

OK, so I have only done probably about 10 years equivalent of running sound for bands ranging from Run D.M.C., Little Feat, Blues Traveler, Joan Baez, The Urge, Chuck Berry, Backdoors, Gravity Kills, Jakes Leg, Spin Doctors, Flaming Lips, Reverend Horton Heat to name a few.  I worked for several dozen clubs (Blue Note in Columbia, MO was my favorite,) and ten different sound companies (Logic Systems being the largest) and several festivals of various sizes.   I currently run sound for a local band called StaggerCatt.   I have mixed at different sound pressure levels ranging from 90dB up to 115dB A weighted (LOUD) depending on what the situation needed.   

I have also played on stage in various venues in St.Louis and Columbia as a keyboard, guitar and bass player.  It’s been a fun ride to say the least.

Loud music ruins ears right?    Yes, definitely.  I try to wear hearing protection, but sometimes it isn’t possible.  I had my hearing tested 20 years ago before I started (as part of an interview for a recording studio which I worked for about 6 months; it wasn’t as fun as live sound where you either get it right or…)  and for the most part, it hasn’t changed much.

Here are the results.  I have some damage in my right ear above 11.2K, and a dip in my left ear at 2k.  But, even after all these years I am still above average hearing for the majority of frequencies (15dB is normal.)   In higher frequencies, my left year is significantly better than average.  I thought it was interesting and thought I would share.



The y-axis represents dB, and the x-axis is frequency.  0dB is defined as the quietest audible sound for persons with excellent hearing under laboratory conditions. 20 db is the level of sound by rustling leaves.  Note: there are few published guidelines for ‘normal’ hearing above 8kHz.  I found a link to a study done that plotted the normal hearing loss above 8k.  As you can see, most people can’t hear above 12.5K  where my hearing reaches well into 20k. 

Tidal Energy

The turbine, known as “Deep Green” was developed by a privately-owned Swedish/UK company, Minesto, and is intended to be tethered 100 meters above the sea bottom. It has a wingspan of 12 meters and a turbine one meter in diameter. The “kite” comprises a wing with a rudder to steer the turbine to face in the direction that will allow it to capture the maximum amount of tidal energy, and generate up to 500 kW of electricity. The kite flies in a figure eight and travels 10 times faster than the water it is tethered in.

Potential solution to Oil Disaster in Gulf?

There’s a potential solution to the Gulf oil spill that neither BP, nor the federal government, nor anyone — save a couple intuitive engineers — seems willing to try. As The Politics Blog reported on Tuesday in an interview with former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, the untapped solution involves using empty supertankers to suck the spill off the surface, treat and discharge the contaminated water, and either salvage or destroy the slick.
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