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Footboard v2

After thinking about how to make my footboard more expressive for a while, I went ahead and built one. After playing around with it for a few weeks, I like it a lot better!

Top:

Bottom:

I made one for each foot. I typically put a kick drum on the left and some sort of high frequency sound (snare/rim/hihat/scratch/etc) on the right.

Changes from the previous version, mostly as planned:

  • Carved instead of flat. I made spaces for my heels to go, and the tactile feedback is really helpful for keeping centered on the board.

  • Grippy instead of smooth. I used a section of a non-slip rug pad.

  • Sorbothane instead of neoprene. The goal was to find a material that would absorb the impact from my foot instead of bouncing around.

  • Circles instead of triangles for the sorbothane. According to the manufacturer it dissapates energy better that way.

  • Flexible adhesive instread of epoxy. I used Loctite Ultra Gel Control, a flexible cyanoacrylate.

  • 3/4" instead of 1/4" for the top. I think it's better if the wood isn't especially flexible.

  • Integrated toe rest instead of separate. No reason to have toe rests that can slide around independently. Looking back I really don't know why I put up with toe rests that kept running off. [1] I made the toes be pads as well but haven't used this for anything yet.

Overall I'm very happy. These are more pleasant to play, and they're sensitive enough that I'm able to play them well while set to be velocity sensitive. I've been practicing a lot while reading to Anna, trying to get the foot patterns fully automatic.


[1] Well, I do know why. I have a very string satisficing instinct. If things are at all tolerable, why change? Overall I think this leads to me being pretty happy.

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BIDA Family Dance Timing

Someone was asking how the BIDA family dance timing works, so here's it written up:
5:00
hall opens, family dance musicians set up on the floor
5:30
family dance starts
5:45
most of the kids who are coming are here by now
6:00
sound person arrives for evening dance, starts setting up on stage
6:30
family dance ends, start setting up for potluck
6:34
tables and chairs are set up, people start getting potluck food
6:41
everyone has their food
6:45
evening band starts their sound check
6:50
most of the kids are done eating, back to running around
7:00
most of the adults are done eating, though still at the tables
7:05
beginner's workshop starts by the stage, people keep eating
7:15
people start cleaning up from the potluck
7:30
workshop ends, evening dance starts

And a series of diagrams showing how this works out in our hall:

While this looks like very tight timing when I'm describing it, the actual timing tends to feel pretty good.

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Boston Rents 2013-2018

I've been keeping a Boston-area rent map since early 2013, which means I can look some at how apartment prices have changed over time. A rough way to do this is just to look at how listings have changed, tracking the average price for each size unit over the last five years:

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Communicating about contra dance sound

If you're new to playing for contra dancing, communication with the people running sound can be tricky. What are you expected to bring? What can you expect them to have? What is reasonable to ask for? Different dances vary, but here are some guidelines.

At least a week before the dance, get in touch with the organizers about sound. You really don't want to show up and be missing something important. A good place to start is listing your musicians, what instruments they play, and what you need for amplifying each instrument. For example, with the Free Raisins I'd list:

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Thoughts on Existential Risk

I recently talked to someone who wanted to know what I thought about existential risk (x-risk). The idea is, how do we keep humanity from being destroyed, or otherwise failing to meet its potential? Within the EA movement there's been some shift in focus from global poverty towards x-risk over the past few years, and as someone who's been advocating for and funding poverty-related organizations they thought I might have some thoughts.

Here's more or less what I said:

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History of HTTPS Usage

"What should I use HTTPS for?" is a question whose answer has changed over the years. Here's an attempt to piece the history together.

The web started off as just HTTP. This allowed for an enormous amount of things, but online shopping wasn't one of them. The problem was, sending credit card numbers over HTTP opened them up to theft: anyone between you and the server could keep a copy of your card information. Netscape saw this as an opportunity, if they could make a safe way to do this, using their browser and server. This would be good for them and good for the success of the web as a whole.

The decided to build SSL, a protocol for creating a secure channel between a client and server, which they could then run HTTP over. They called the combination HTTPS.

It was initially viewed as just a thing for credit cards. For example:

Netscape charges $1,495 for an entry-level server; adding the ability to handle secure credit card transmissions bumps the price up to $5,000
  —The rise of Netscape, July 1995

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