The Polar Vortex Has Departed

After two weeks, the polar vortex has departed the area, leaving us with seasonably-comfortable temperatures in the upper twenties and low thirties. Samantha the border collie and I took a long walk around a nearby park.

Planning Sound Panels

I have had two boxes of Roxul Rockboard sitting in the garage for two years, in preparation for making sound panels. Now I am wishing I had just bought sound panels, instead of material for making sound panels. The cost difference isn’t that much, but it would be a lot easier.

But there they are, the two boxes of Rockboard. So use them I shall!

Linksys AC750 WiFi Extender

IMG_5019Over the recent holidays, I set up a couple of Ring devices: a doorbell, and a camera overlooking our hard-to-see-from-inside-the-house driveway. Both devices worked generally well, but it often took several tries to connect to a live view of the camera video feed. Both devices showed fairly low WiFi RSSI signal strength numbers, which was not that surprising given that they are outside above ground level, and the wireless router (hooked up to the Internet connection) is in the basement.

So I installed a Linksys AC750 WiFi Extender in the garage. Contrary to some of the Amazon reviews for the AC750, I found the setup process clear and easy to do… for a software engineer! The instructions probably could have more clearly explained some steps for general readers, but nevertheless I have it up and running.

It only boosted the RSSI numbers a little bit (about 5-10), but it was apparently enough to give much better response time on connecting to the camera live views. A solid addition to the home doorbell/camera system! Perhaps Ring should offer their own especially-easy-to-set-up WiFi extender?

The Return of Something for Cat

I had recently heard a well-respected multimedia composer state that one of my personal favorite genres of music, what you might describe as 1960’s easy listening light big band jazz, a la Henry Mancini or Neil Hefti, was really no longer commercially desirable.

But just this month, I heard on two separate commercials, Mancini’s track *Something for Cat* from the *Breakfast at Tiffany’s* soundtrack. Perhaps this style is making a bit of a comeback?

Even if not, style aside, *Something for Cat* is a fine example of one of the main features of much commercial / library music today: very minimal melody, with an arrangement that builds, adding a new component, every few measures. Let’s take a listen:

Today’s most typical commercial guidance is to add a new musical element every four measures; here, depending on how you are counting the time, Mancini is adding a new element every eight measures:

  • Eight measures of percussion and low horns
  • Eight measures of adding a low sax riff
  • Eight measures of adding a high muted trumpet riff
  • Eight measures almost the same as the previous, but building the intensity of the drums/percussion

None of this is especially melodic, and thus none of it would especially interfere with on-screen dialogue or narration. In other words, great background underscore music.

After those opening 32 measures, Mancini then goes into a short “B” section of the song, a little bit more melodic, but still reasonably containable in the background.

Past that, the piece goes into various jazz solos, and becomes less generally desirable as multi-purpose commercial library music. It may well work in a particular setting, but such virtuosic lead lines are prone to conflicting with dialogue. When producing modern commercial library music, there is nothing wrong with including such passages, but you would probably want to also provide variations without the soloing.

Even so, the core essence of the track bears much structural resemblance to the commercial music today. And whether if we are seeing a big return to 1960s jazz stylings or not, it’s nice to hear this track getting some fresh air time!

Commercial Electric Ceiling Lights

Having completed the drywall and painting in a newly-finished room in the basement, I started looking at light fixture options. Other rooms in the house had been outfitted by the original builder with basic Patriot Stella fixtures, part of the Menard’s store line of light fixtures, so I bought a package of those to match.

After three hours of trying to install one of these Patriot Stella fixtures, I gave up. The included wire nuts were on the small side, and it was unusually arduous to join the wires. In trying to get the questionably-spaced screws on the mounting plate to line up with the base of the light fixture, the mounting plate was getting bent. I presume there is some trick to getting these light fixtures installed easily, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish the first fixture, much less get the next two up.

Eschewing Menard’s for any further light fixtures, I browsed Home Depot’s website for well-rated ceiling lights. One reviewer of the Commercial Electric LED Flush Mount fixture claimed a successful installation in eight minutes. Sounded promising, so I trundled over to Home Depot and bought one.

Back in the basement, the installation process went much better. The wire nuts easily accommodated the needful wires, and it was trivially easy to line up the screws with the fixture base. All in all, I had the fixture installed and working in about thirteen minutes.

Being an integrated LED fixture, I believe you typically replace the entire fixture when the long-lasting LED element eventually wears out, but that could be years. And with a fixture as easy to install as this one, I would not at all mind replacing it every few years.

Thank you Commercial Electric!