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Deconstructing "alice"...


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I’ve about decided “Alice” the ‘puter needs a new body. I would get a new motherboard if I could, but I can’t. However, I’ve got four computer hulks out in the garage, three of them purchased from the community college when they moved and a fourth bought from Sharma Kay, dear departed friend and former bass player in our short-lived Portland band. The college’s are Pentium IIIs, and it appears from the techie Websites that I can make those work with my stuff. They were all supposedly working when they “graduated” (one was working in the college office). Sharma’s is a Pentium II, and useful primarily for parts (but it has a lot of nifty parts—Sharma was a first-class computer geek). I even have a gigantic flatbed scanner.

So I’ll transfer Alice’s hard drive, RAM and DVD drive into the New Unit; might add Sharma’s CD drive (which, knowing her, might have been a rewritable one—I don’t think the college’s were) and the card for the big scanner. I’ll cram as much RAM into the New Unit as I can—I’ve got extra chips I’ve never used. If it works, that may change what I buy when I go computer parts shopping next Wednesday; what I’ll be after is a DVD-rewritable drive, and an external case so I can switch it back and forth between the New Unit and “StuartLittle,” who is going to become the Studio Machine.

Good work for a sunny day. I do get paranoid about taking a screwdriver to a computer—software, not hardware, is my expertise as an Educated Computer Programmer (one, be it noted, who has never actually had a job as a computer programmer). However, these troubled times necessitate pushing the envelope rather a lot. If I screw up, I still have StuartLittle set up and working, even though he’s a little slow.

Noticed while visiting the studio (which hasn’t been habitable through the winter, because of the cold) that I could easily expand the 5x7 room to approximately 5x12 with (I think) just one sheet of plywood. That would be exciting. Right now, the studio has room for pretty much just me—not even room for the computer, really. Expanded, I could have people over (one at a time, of course). I would like to keep to my doing-it-for-no-money routine, though—I built the studio for under $10 (and most of that was for screws). And I will need to clean out the garage first.

I may have found a lot of the garden-pest mug shots I need for the “Earwigs” video; I got from the library What’s Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?), which has a lot of color photos I think I can scan. For the plants, I’ll stop by Foodroots’ Edible Plant Show on Easter Saturday and see what I can photograph. Could save buying a lot of seed packets.

Alice’s hard drive is almost full—again—only this time, I’ve got limited options for archiving stuff, since I still don’t have a rewritable CD or DVD drive. Another argument for building the New Unit—I can add one of the college’s 30-gigabyte hard drives. I have a flash drive but didn’t really want to use it for storage—it was going to be my experiment for the Southern Pigfish album, which will be all music videos.

The Impromptus’ setlist has 38 songs, which should be enough for our 160-minute performance (3 hours with two 10-minute breaks), roughly split between Candice, Jane, Kathryn and myself. Next step is to mix ‘em up. With four lead voices to play with (Jane’s “voice” is the fiddle), and a bunch of different keys, there are a lot of variables to play with. Should be easy to ensure no two songs sound alike. Jane’s Celtic “rigs and jeels” tend to be fast; Kathryn’s originals are slower and folkier; I can do both slow and fast, and so can Candice (but she can sing, and I can’t). Since we don’t (and won’t) have a bass player, I think that means I default to “emulating” bass on the guitar, like I used to do with the Malheur Miners, years ago. Doable, but it means I can’t do as much conventional lead work as I’d like. I’ll have to figure out bass runs to most of the songs.

And they want to do “Electronic Love,” my Internet porn song. (And they can do it with 3-part harmony. That’s scary.) I’ve been told that most of the music at the Manzanita Farmer’s Market never gets listened to; it’s just background noise for people passing by. We might change that…

Joe

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