If my mind was this cluttered… Oh, wait.

I’ve been busy on many fronts lately, and haven’t had time to blog. In lieu of real content, here’s a picture of my office…

my work desktop
(Click on it to get a bigger view.)

Some things to note:

  • You can see by the height of the chair that I have put my desk back in “stand up” mode. I’ve only been at it for a couple of days, and so my back (and feet) are still pretty sore, but I must say it’s a great way to remind myself that I need to lose weight. It usually takes about 3 weeks to get used to it again.
  • I do still juggle, especially on conference calls [pssst… don’t tell anyone. 😉 ]. The balls on the desk are actually made of wood; they’re great for training you to catch properly since they hurt if you do it wrong (but you don’t lose fingers like you do with knives). The pins (stuck in the back of the desk under the Escher print) are just for show, I haven’t used them in years. Oh, and there’s a unicycle just out of frame behind the cello case on the left. 🙂
  • The silent cello is still at work. I try to get 10 or 15 minutes to play it at lunch, but that’s about the best I’ve done.
  • Yes, my main development machine is a MacBook Pro.

Anyway, stay tuned hopefully after EclipseCon is over, next week, we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming updates.

At last! Now, no one can hear me.

I stopped at Long & McQuade one day this week and noticed that they had a Yamaha Silent Cello sitting in a box. I have always wanted to try one of these instruments, so Friday I managed to coherce Ken and Steve — no, it wasn’t that difficult — to go on a road trip at lunch time to see if it had been put on display yet. It turned out that it hadn’t been, but the salesperson who worked in that section was happy to set it up while we waited. I was pleased to see that he knew stringed instruments well, going from removing the packing material to having it fully set up and tuned in about five minutes.

While waiting for it to be prep’ed, I looked through the cello bows they had in stock to see if there was something interesting to play. For grins, I ended up trying a fiberglass bow. Um… no. It seems that fiberglass bows have considerably more flex than pernambuco, and there’s something about the lack of grain / direction to the flex that felt very weird. Oh well.

Since the silent cello is (nearly) silent without amplification, the salesman asked if I wanted to try it with headphones, or go for an amp, and I (being the brave soul that I am) went the amp route. After a little initial awkwardness I found that it was quite natural to play. Ken helpfully snapped a candid shot with his iPhone, then used his psionic powers to annotate it with exactly what I was thinking…

McQ tries the SVC-50

Anyway, the summary is, money-or-no I decided to get it. Hopefully, somewhere between a year-end bonus and a tax refund I can clear up the $1500 damage. (Of course, any cellist will tell you that $1500 for an instrument is cheap, but that doesn’t make it any easier.)

The thing is, it really is exactly what I wanted. Even though the SVC-50 is the cheapest of the models Yamaha makes, and is missing some of the sensors that are in the more expensive ones, it still sounds quite good — better, in fact, than the sound I got from the piezo pickup on my “real” cello. It has a built-in headphone amp and a line in jack that I can use to connect my iPhone, so it will be the perfect tool for practicing at work[*], while listening to the pieces for the orchestra.

It’s also perfect for connecting up to music software, since you can hear the processed result without having to block out the original sound of the instrument. I’ll try to get something recorded soon, so you can hear what it sounds like.

It’s very cool!

Here’s one last image, from the official Yamaha site:

Yamaha SVC-50


[*] Since everyone I have said that to has replied “Aren’t you supposed to be working instead?”, I’m compelled to note that I mean at lunchtime.