Posts tagged with "toys"


A demon­stra­tion of the Melodica app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. There are sim­i­lar apps out there — Tonepad, Synthtopia — but none of them are as sim­ple and pol­ished. That being said, there are a few fea­tures that could make Melodica stand out even more, such as the abil­i­ty to save com­po­si­tions on-the-fly and lay­er them under new ones, or the abil­i­ty to change the sam­ple sound, so I’m hop­ing they’ll be added in an update. Regardless, I’ve only had this app for a day, and I’ve been enjoy­ing it immense­ly.

Some tips for composing/performing songs in Melodica:

  • The rests, or spaces between the notes, are impor­tant too. Don’t feel that you need to fill the board with notes. Just like in jazz, it’s impor­tant to hear that notes that aren’t played. Sometimes a melody is strong enough that a few spar­tan notes by them­selves are enough to estab­lish some­thing beau­ti­ful. Or you can places notes on every beat of a mea­sure, except the down­beat, which sub­tly implies “this silence is where the down­beat is sup­posed to be, even though no note is being played”.
  • Don’t feel that you need to use bass notes to estab­lish a rhythm. You can switch it up with high notes as well, and have the base­line as the melody.
  • Syncopation is pos­si­ble. If you imag­ine each of the 16 squares going across as quar­ter notes in four bars in 4/4 time, then you can estab­lish as rhythm by hav­ing a note at the begin­ning (count­ing as the “one”) of each bar, and the third note if you like. You can achieve a nice syn­co­pat­ed sound by putting a note on the sec­ond and fourth quar­ter note of a bar. But be care­ful; if you decide to remove cer­tain notes, don’t remove the rhythm before you remove the syn­co­pat­ed notes. Otherwise, the lis­ten­er eas­i­ly los­es a sense of where the down­beat is sup­posed to fall, it begins to sound like you’re mak­ing a mis­take, and the song eas­i­ly falls apart.
  • Try to have a pur­pose, or an idea of where you want to go. Improvisation is total­ly one of the main advan­tages of Melodica, but you can still decide where you want to go dur­ing a song. If you can see the struc­ture then it’ll be eas­i­er to work up to that ahead of time. For exam­ple, if you want a song that starts qui­et, builds slow­ly to a cli­max, then crash­es dra­mat­i­cal­ly before re-estab­lish­ing a steady pace, then you can plan out which notes to add and take away that will quick­ly and effec­tive­ly achieve these changes.
  • End your songs. Instead of just stop­ping, or clear­ing the board, fade out by tak­ing ele­ments away. And if you can, end your phras­es, which means remov­ing the notes from left to right as they’re being played. If you remove notes from right to left, it’ll sound like you stopped abrupt­ly in the mid­dle of a song. Sort of like hear­ing Westminster chimes with­out the last note, leav­ing the lis­ten­er to won­der where the res­o­lu­tion is.
  • Use sev­er­al notes of the same pitch in a row spar­ing­ly. This is total­ly a per­son­al pref­er­ence, but I find I get tired of hear­ing these quick­ly.
  • Songs sound bet­ter with con­trast. That means keep­ing some space between highs, mids, and lows. Or aban­don­ing the mid-range sec­tion alto­geth­er, since there isn’t much ver­ti­cal room to com­pose. This is because you can cre­ate the illu­sion of more lay­ers by hav­ing strong­ly defined parts of a song. Otherwise, it all sounds like one com­plex melody.

Feather Fountain Pen

Feather fountain pen

Pat and Jen bought me this feath­er foun­tain pen set from their hon­ey­moon to Europe. It comes from an Italian sculp­ture store, Fabris Giuliana in Venice, Italy.

Feather fountain pen writing

The nib is super fine; I don’t think I’ve ever owned a foun­tain pen with such a small nib, which is per­fect, because I tend to have small hand­writ­ing. You can’t even tell which direc­tion the stroke is going. So far it writes a lit­tle rough and scratchy, but with enough use, the nib will break in to my writ­ing style.

I’ve always enjoyed writ­ing. Not just the con­cept of putting ideas into more a tan­gi­ble medi­um, but the act of writ­ing itself, whether it’s on a key­board by night, or flow­ing lines on a sheet of paper.

Model Cat

Model cat

My Uncle Joe and Aunt Vivien bought me this mod­el cat from Taiwan. It looks so real that I thought it was stuffed at first glance. It’s life-sized, though on the small side, so appear­ing to be a kit­ten. You can only tell that it’s fake when you look clos­er at it’s nose (plas­tic, with­out the same tex­ture as a real cat’s nose) and ears (too much hair — I’m guess­ing mem­branes are too dif­fi­cult to fake). If I was­n’t a cat lover, I’d def­i­nite­ly be fooled.

I’m going to put it in the back win­dow of my car; I’ve been look­ing for a dec­o­ra­tion ever since I got my car a year ago, and this is per­fect. Hopefully no one will smash my win­dows in an attempt to save it.

Moo Minicards

Moo Minicard montage

Thumbnail: The Moo box
Thumbnail: The Moo Minicard package
Thumbnail: The Moo Minicard holder
Thumbnail: The Moo Minicard detail
Thumbnail: The Moo keyfob

My Moo Minicards are in! I want­ed a set to hand out at art shows and to peo­ple I ask to mod­el for me. I also throw a few in with each print I sell. People have real­ly enjoyed them; many have a hard time decid­ing which one they want to take. The great thing about the Minicards is that you can order up to 100 dif­fer­ent pic­tures on the front, so that peo­ple get a sense of the range of pho­tog­ra­phy you do.

Continue read­ing “Moo Minicards”…

Christmas Wish-List '07

A look into my cur­rent tastes, updat­ed for 2007. This list is some­what short­er than last years because the ones I haven’t checked off still apply, and I’ve been guilty of some spend­ing this month; The first two sea­sons of Robson Arms on DVD (which I des­per­ate­ly wait­ed two years for), sea­son six of Trailer Park Boys, my mit­tens, a RAZR 2 (the cell phone I’ve had for five years died), an elec­tric tooth­brush, and var­i­ous gifts.


  • Bogen / Manfrotto Background Support System 314 ($280) — To quick­ly set up dif­fer­ent coloured back­grounds in my pho­tog­ra­phy room.

    Bought it on sale, which was still $260.

  • Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 Ballhead ($475) — My cur­rent tri­pod isn’t strong enough to hold most of my lens­es in place, and the lock­ing mech­a­nism is extreme­ly chintzy. Very frus­trat­ing when work­ing with dark shots. A ball­head would give me tremen­dous flex­i­bil­i­ty.
  • Gitzo GT3530LSV Mountaineer 6x Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs ($625) — Carbon fiber tub­ing makes for an extreme­ly light and portable set of tri­pod legs. Packed with all the impor­tant lit­tle fea­tures like an anti-leg rota­tion sys­tem, the Gitzo leg lock­ing sys­tem, and remov­able rub­ber feet.


  • Rubix Cube Ottoman ($129) — A black, two-toned square ottoman to go with my leather couch.


  • Bodum Assam 2‑Cup Tea Press ($25) — I have one of these at home, but it would be great to have one at work too, so I can make more than one cup of tea at a time.

    Julie bought me a Stokes gourmet Formosa tea infuser for Christmas 2008. A lit­tle cham­ber for loose leaves dan­gles from the top, as opposed to a press, which can cre­ate bit­ter­ness in tea.

  • Braun Impression WK 600 Kettle ($90) — A large ket­tle for my tea. Right now, I have to boil water in two cup inter­vals, which takes a while when guests are over.

    Andrew and Alex bought me a sim­i­lar mod­el for my birth­day, and it’s SWEET.

  • Tingler Head Massager ($15) — On Jason’s rec­om­men­da­tion on my recent post about man­u­al stim­u­la­tion. The reviews say that it helps put you to sleep, and that can nev­er be a bad thing.

    Found a cheep one at Zone for five dol­lars! Doesn’t vibrate or any­thing but still pret­ty good. Next is find­ing some­one to use it on me.


  • Orange Box ($50) — A nos­tal­gic trip back to the days of my favourite game ever: Team Fortress Classic for Half-Life. I hear the game­play has changed a lot, but I don’t care. We’ll prob­a­bly be play­ing this at the next LAN.
  • Odin Sphere ($40) — A side-scrolling fan­ta­sy RPG for the PS2 that I don’t want to miss.


  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OVA ($52) — My favourite ani­me of all time: a com­bi­na­tion of fas­ci­nat­ing uni­verse, and very intel­li­gent action. I cur­rent­ly have a copy in Japanese with French sub­ti­tles. While this helps me learn more French, I also don’t under­stand much the phras­es.

    Found a copy of this for down­load.

  • Reno 911 sea­sons 2–5 ($90) — An hilar­i­ous, orig­i­nal look at law enforce­ment. Trailer Park Boys from the oth­er side of the law. I have the first sea­son (thank you Music World for going out of busi­ness and giv­ing me 20% off), but I’d love to get the rest, along with the movie.

    Bought all of these on a lark. Did not regret the deci­sion.