Lament of the Cubic Man, Pt. 1

Gray walls
Not hard, like stone
Rather, soft as linen
A prison nonetheless

Broken hours
Some here, some there

The squawking box
Tinny complaints against my ear
So much sound
So little substance

A pittance given
Far less than what’s earn’d
“Smile, for you are privileged”
Quips the whip-wielding Master

Spinning wheels
Same shit, different flies
The life allowed is not commensurate
With the soul-price demanded

From man to chattels
Slavery without bondage

Torque Track Recorder – Exporting Videos With USB

By now most people have heard of Torque, the Android app (mad props to Ian Hawkings for cooking it up) that works in concert with an ELM327 OBD II adapter (such as this bluetooth-enabled model) to give drivers a customized, detailed readout of the computer-controlled functions in their vehicle, with a variety of theme-able display options including various gauges, dials, graphs, digital displays, etc.

While the paid version is pretty awesome as-is, it can be extended with the addition of themes and plugins, my favorite of which has to be Track Recorder. It allows you to utilize your device’s camera to record your trip (in HD, presuming you have a capable device and plenty of storage space), while overlaying your gauges and meters on the screen, and also has the option to cover the whole thing in a semi-transparent map as well. Not a fan of that feature myself; as it covers the whole video, thus partially obscuring it, I feel like it defeats the purpose of having a video recorder in the first place… there I go rambling again.

Anyway, exporting the videos to, say, a Windows 7 box can be a bit of a task for those not computationally-literate, so I thought I’d write up my own little install/setup/use guide that might be of use to someone.

Step 1

Head over to the developer’s website and read his install guide, but don’t actually do anything yet. Take your time. I’ll wait.

Step 2

Good? OK, now before you install anything, go to the Control Panel – Programs and Features, and check to make sure you don’t have 64-bit Java installed; if you do, uninstall it. The export program will not encode the videos if you have 64-bit Java installed on the machine at all (at least, it wouldn’t for me), and believe me, knowing that beforehand will save you a fair amount of stress.

Step 3

NOW you can follow the dev’s instructions (Only including Windows links here, go back to his site if you’re running OSX or Linux):

download/install 32-bit Java

– download and (build and) install Xuggler (good luck with that), or grab the 32-bit installer here

– Reboot (seriously – Xuggler won’t work until you do)

Download the Torque Sync agent from the dev’s website

Step 4

When you open Torque Sync (which automatically minimizes to the notification bar in Windows), you have the option of using either WiFi or the USB port on your device to upload the videos and data files; you can find a video that explains how to set up WiFI sync here, as that’s outside the scope of this post. For USB sync, all you have to do at this point is:

– Plug your device into the computer

– Set USB mode on the device for Mass Storage

– Open Torque

Once you open the Torque app on the phone, you should be able to right-click the Torque Sync icon in the notification panel and see how far along the download is. The icon looks like this:


Once the synchronization completes, at which point you can disconnect your device and/or delete the videos as they’ve been downloaded to the computer, click on the Encode Videos… option in the middle:


Which will bring up the main window:


All you have to do now is select the clip you want to export and hit start encoding! This will bring up the screen for the encoding software itself, in which you can watch the video in StutterVision while it encodes. The process can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size/quality of the video, as well as your machine’s processing power/memory/etc.

Memorial Day Update:

Video’s done:

The song can be found at my Soundcloud account; the pops and hissing is from my new-to-me rackmount processer… needs some cleaning:

Notice regarding Slashdot Spammer

Someone has created a duplicate of my account on Slashdot, and is spamming various threads. So, please do not come here to send me an angry, ‘anonymous’ email complaining about the spam, as I do not own the domain, and thus have no control over the content there.

Sincerely, the ‘real’ CanHasDIY
(Slashdot UID 1672858)

EDIT: Sorry for the now-fixed link errors, something’s up with either my phone or the WordPress app I’m using.

Been Awhile

Man, has it really been two months since I last posted? Guess I’ve been busy, what with aging and running marathons with my wife.

OK, a marathon… and just a 5K… but that’s the most voluntary running I’ve done in 30 years, so not too shabby. It was one of those ones where they chuck handfuls of colored cornstarch at you, which was fun, plus the proceeds went to the local PBS affiliate to fund more children’s programming, which is awesome.

Anyway, wanted to get on here and at least mention the fact that yes, I am working on another CBG, and I’m still kicking around a few new amp ideas. I’m also considering picking up one of those cheap, USB software defined radios, as I’ve always had an interest in that sort of thing, but I’m concerned that I won’t be exactly what you would call “responsible” with such a thing. I suppose some things we never grow out of.

I’m also in the process of ripping a bunch of old reel-to-reel tapes to digital files, before the tapes get too old; I already lost a good 30 feet of killer stuff when one of the broke. Twice. Thus, I haven’t yet taken the time to actually go through the audio, aside from monitoring levels during the recording phase, but once I do I’ll try to get some of the better clips up on SoundCloud. Most of it is some seriously old-school firebrand preachin’ – I bought the TEAC and tapes from an old Southern Baptist minister’s estate some years back, and apparently he had his very own AM radio show – but there are a few terribly recorded bits of practice sessions with my old band, Devious Ego.

Well, there’s your April update, hopefully I’ll have more for you in the future.

Trying Something New

If you haven’t noticed, the post before this is not my original content; I’ve found this new service called Repost, which allows site operators to add syndicated content to their blogs, and I’ve decided to give it a shot.

Please use the contact page to let me know what you think about it – if it becomes a problem (i.e., fills my site with stupid and/or poorly placed ads), I won’t hesitate to drop the service like an eagle dropping a turtle onto a hot rock.

The Day We Fight Back

The NSA is watching us, and it’s time we take back our rights. Use the #stopthensa hashtag on Twitter to help spread the word!

Congress is considering two major bills:

The USA Freedom Act (S. 1599) is a bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

If passed, this bill would be a substantial improvement to America’s laws regarding mass surveillance.

– It brings new levels of transparency to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court)
– It introduces a special advocate to champion civil liberties in the FISA court
– It appears to create new statutory limits on mass surveillance by the NSA.

However, this bill is a floor, not a ceiling. Here’s how it could be improved:

– It could clarify in plain language that bulk surveillance is illegal and prevent the FBI from issuing National Security Letters without prior review by a judge.
– Include language to stop the NSA from undermining international encryption standards.
– Have stronger language to protect the privacy of people outside of the United States.

The USA FREEDOM Act is one step in the right direction, with many more steps that need to follow.

The FISA Improvements Act is a bill written by the intelligence community and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

If the FISA Improvements Act (S. 1631) were to pass:

– It would codify the controversial bulk telephone records surveillance program of the NSA.
– It would allow the NSA to continue to collect telephone records of hundreds of millions of Americans not suspected of any crime.
– It would permit the NSA to restart the bulk collection of Internet communication records—an extremely invasive, secret program the government attempted under dubious legal ground but abandoned because it wasn’t effective.

If you care about your privacy, Liberty, and security, I implore you to check out the banner at the bottom of the page to do your part in, at the very least, telling your Congresscritters that you are tired of being treated like a criminal, purely by virtue of the fact that you exist and communicate with other humans.

Huge thanks to for the banner code and info on the legislation.

Finished Project: The Gift Horse

Final Product
Final Product

I haven’t forgotten you, handful of visitors whom I see pop up in my WordPress stats page! At least, the ones I’ve convinced myself are real people and not just spambots. Or my mom.

So… hello to both of you.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been busy working on a CBG for my brother-in-law, who is getting ready to move to Italy for the next couple years. I did a few things differently on this one, compared to the Senator; for starters, the neck is a glue-on type, rather than a through-body design. I used dowel pins and a block inside the body to align and strengthen the bond; I also incorporated a section of 2″ maple into the end piece of the neck, thereby increasing the bonding surface area, as well as making it look like a “real” guitar neck.

For the fingerboard, I used a much lighter wood… spruce, I think. I chose it because I figured it would take the black stain I was planning on using well, not to mention just wanting to try out something different. Fretting the fingerboard was an adventure; the first mistake I made was cutting the fret notches before staining the wood. Having to go back through each fret slot with the saw, clearing out sticky stain is a huge waste of time.

If you don’t already know this, the “japanese flush cut saw” is by far the best tool there is for cutting fret slots, outside the sort of thing you would see in a professional luthier’s workshop. I picked mine up at Harbor Freight for less than $10, and my only regret is that I didn’t buy a spare.

Since the flush cut saw blade cuts a swath just a bit narrower than the width of the fret tang, I was able to hammer the frets in without resorting to glue, except on a few stubborn ones. The fret wire was far tougher than I expected it to be, so make sure you have a good, strong set of end nips – you’ll need them for cutting the wire to length, trimming the tang ends, and rounding the edges of the frets.

The drill press was again used for the tuning machines, and a rotary tool to fine-tune the edges, as well as cut the sound hole in the box (It’s a horse, if you can’t tell. Gift Horse. Get it?). The bridge is made from a piece of the stain test piece for the neck, and the tailpiece used to be a faux-bronze hinge that I cut, drilled, and filed into shape. Strings are Martin M1400 Marquis Folk Guitar Strings, (G, B, E), tuned to G, B, and D.

It sounds pretty darn good, and made for one happy customer.

one happy customer

Due to the added complexity of the neck, I probably put close to 20 hours into the Gift Horse over the course of 3 weeks. I’ll definitely use the design again, likely on my next electric, but will definitely try a through-body acoustic again in the near future. Right now, I’m debating whether to start a new amp project – up for consideration are a two-channel LM386 “street gig” amp, a bridged 1w LM386 powerhouse, or a bunch of single LM386 amps like the River Gem; I have a handful of chips burning a hole in my organizer.

A mote on a stone, floating in an endless void. Or something like that.