Saturday, January 7, 2017

Are Things Crashing Down?

I just got here to the computer room and plugged Howard's tablet in and....nothing.
A dark screen, no matter what button I press, nor how long I hold it....
"...those things (tablets) are pieces of (junk)." - Alex In California, blog reader
I suppose, now I will go back to my room and plug it in to the charger, as, the only logical possibility of it not having crapped the bed, would be that I had just let its battery run down.
If the device is constantly searching for wi-fi hotpoints, even when "off," then this could have drained the battery down.

I know that staying up all night recording videos chews up a lot of juice...

It's Official!
2 Hours Later...

OK, Howard's tablet is as dead as a door nail.

And, being digital, with no moving inner parts, whacking the the thing against my thigh like I do my flashlight, was to no avail.

I had carried it through the parking lot (it's below freezing here right now, by the way) on the way to the computer room, so it was in about 30 degree air for a couple of minutes -the time it takes to walk across the lot, plus the time it takes to rattle my keys to see if Harold the cat might have his ears peeled, wanting to come inside on his coldest night on the planet so far...

Harold did not come, which tells me that he has probably found some place outside, perhaps underneath some central heat and air unit that has hot water running through its pipes, where he would go on such a cold night.

And then, I plugged in Howard's tablet. The one he had commissioned me to "figure out what the hell it's good for."

Well, do you need something that's gonna die, Howard? Are those finches that you got pissing you off with their longevity? Do you value little reminders of the temporal nature of our present state of existence; things that give you pause to really contemplate what it all means? What it is good for?
I have this idea in my head, Howard. I'm going to affix the tablet to some heavy poster board, then, using noodles and food coloring, turn it into something which will evoke emotion. Let me try that before we throw it away...

I have to admit, I almost feel responsible in a way for the death of Howard's tablet.

Is the device not intended to be used to shoot videos for hours on end?

I have to conclude that the device was teetering on the verge of failing, and that, my brief little circumspection of the parking lot, looking for Harold the cat, out in the 30 degree air was just enough to lower the temperature of the tablet to the point where some electrical connection, perhaps no wider than two atoms of metal laid side by side, contracted in the cold just enough so that the atoms lost contact.

I have to try to explain all this to Howard, out of feeling guilty, I think.

It's like I borrowed his car and wrecked it. And was arrested at the scene with a blood alcohol level of .31 and cited for doing 90 in a 35 mph zone.

I was pounding coffee like a speed freak and shooting video after video, hitting stop and then start again after every mistake, up all night; putting the tablet through the ringer...

The TV Video Idea, but...

Among the videos that are probably now lost forever, were a few that I shot using the "TV idea."

The problem that the idea addressed was that, getting the optimal mix between guitar and vocal, could apparently be achieved by singing from about a 9 inches away from the microphone on the tablet, with the guitar about 2 feet from the same microphone.
This ratio could not be obeyed at a greater distance from the tablet (i.e. it would be very hard for me to sing from 3 feet away and play the guitar from 8 feet away at the same time).
This, of course, produced video of a face, 9 inches from the camera, singing, and not much else, though the audio sounded pretty good.

First, The Mirror Idea

So, after thinking critically about the problem, I concluded that I could use a mirror.

Just as a person who shoots a picture of himself in a mirror 5 feet away looks like he is 10 feet away (and flipped horizontally) in the resulting picture, I would point Howard's tablet at my dresser mirror from about 2 feet away, and then sing from 9 inches behind the thing, and the resulting video would show me appearing about 5 feet away, (so that you would be able to see the guitar, and my hat, at least) but sounding as if I were right up on the microphone, which I would be.

Then, I had a brainstorm. I would use my 27" TV as the mirror.

By shutting all the lights off except for a spotlight that I had made out of cardboard -basically a box that I used to cover a lamp with one hole cut out of it to form the beam- and aiming the camera at the TV from about 2 feet, it was able to capture a strange glowing image of me that looked like it was hanging in the air about 5 feet away, playing and singing.

Those videos were some of the more interesting of those now lost forever; the sound was good because I used the same 3/8 ratio.

I ultimately switched to the mirror in my room after concluding that a TV really doesn't reflect much of the light back, which hits it. It probably reflects more back off the grey screen which is visible through the glass of a turned off set. I wound up putting a 175 watt bulb about 2 feet from my face through the hole in the cardboard, just to illuminate it enough to display the ghostly image mentioned above. The rest of the frame was in blackness and so the effect that I wanted; that of being able to tell that "the guy" is "on TV" in the video, was lost. I was hoping that at least the frame with the "Zenith" logo would be in it.

Evolution As Musician

This kind of marks an evolution in my musicianship.

I am relying less and less upon the "magic" of spontaneity and feeling less and less like I am capturing once in a lifetime, non repeatable performances in these recent recordings and videos that I have been making.

By realizing that even the most "accidental" cool ass thing that you might do musically "I don't know, I just went way up high on the neck and hit notes as fast as I could, I don't even know what they were, I just played from the heart, that bend was killer!!" can be, through analysis,  broken down to musical values of pitch and duration -probably traced right back to J.S. Bach- and transcribed "literally" onto paper. With more than just an instruction to "just go way up high on the neck and play as fast as you can and bend the hell out of the string; with feeling."

So, I feel like I could set up and outdo those videos right now that have become "lost forever."

Postponing Phoning

I'm putting off making the call to Howard to tell him that

A: I am too broke to even go over there to watch playoff football, and that isn't just a ploy to hang on to his tablet, which I have become addicted to, longer. Because, well, anyways...

B: His tablet is dead.

I would have to go through the translating of Ken, as Howard cannot hear well enough to use a cell phone.

Ken may have been the one who had bought the tablet for Howard as a Christmas gift.

I would have to pussy foot around the issue of it being a piece of shit that Howard wouldn't have wanted anyways. ...somebody gave him a pretty worthless gift....

I can imagine snippets of a conversation: "Where's the tablet I gave you for Christmas?"

"Oh, he's had it for a while now; shouldn't have taken him this long to have figured it out for you..."

"No, I've known Daniel for a while. He's; he's not like that..."


alex carter said...

Well I guess I'm right, a tablet you pay anything for is not worth it, and a free tablet may be worth it, but even those are doubtful.

I had a tablet here, provided by Ken, who got some kind of a deal from Verizon and only had to pay $10 a month for extra tablets on his cell phone account, so he got one for his daughter (which got stolen) and he got one for me to use here at the shop to look up Ebay items that had sold, to head off the literal hour or two of hunting around frantically for them when he came by to pick me up.

The tablet worked OK for that, most of the time.

He finally decided to pay for internet at the shop here because I said I can't justify paying 10% of my gross income to have it, and he realized I can do things, like accept offers from buyers that he normally doesn't realize he has until they've expired, making enough more for him that it justifies paying what for me, would be 10% of my gross income.

So I didn't use the tablet for a long time, then decided to see if it still worked, and it didn't - no connection. I took it back to Ken's house and the next day found out Verizon had been charging them $40-odd for a stolen tablet and an unused tablet, and she'd finally gotten the "accounts" ended.

I didn't dare take the tablet out of the shop here because it was not mine.

So yeah I'm not a big tablet fan.

alex carter said...

Oh, and the tablet I had only had a battery life of a few hours. It lived on the charger when not being used.