Glass Molding: A tidbit

Glassomer GmbH has created intricate shapes using injection molding. Photo: Glassomer.

A new approach to glassmaking treats the material like plastic, allowing scientists to injection mold vaccine vials, sinuous channels for carrying out lab chemistry, and other complex shapes.

Glass was first produced in Egypt and eastern Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C.E. Silicon dioxide (silica) is heated to about 2000°C, then shaped using a variety of techniques. Current mass production techniques can easily produce many shapes, including glass sheets and bottles, but less successfully reproduce more intricate designs.

Since 2017, Frederik Kotz, a microsystems engineer, group leader at the Laboratory of Process Technology at Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at Glassomer, and associates have reworked a 3D printer to forge glass.

They create a printable powder by mixing silica nanoparticles with a polymer. After 3D-printing the desired shapes, they cure the mix with ultraviolet (UV) light. This ensures it holds its shape, until they fire the mix in an oven to burn off the polymer and fuse the silica particles into a continuous glass structure.

Unfortunately the procedure is slow, and unsuitable for mass production. Thus, the process has been modified to include injection molding. Silica is mixed with two polymers, polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polyvinyl butyral (PVB). This creates a dry powder that can be fed into an extruder that presses it into a preformed mold with the desired shape.

Once released from the mold, the fragile parts retain their shape because of weak attractive bonds, called van der Waals interactions, that form between neighbouring silica particles. Water is used to wash away the PEG. Then the remaining material is fired in two stages: First at 600°C to burn away the PVB, and then a second firing at 1300°C to fuse the silica particles into the final piece.

The final products are transparent, chemical inert, and stable, even at high temperatures. This makes them ideal for numerous products including telecommunications equipment, packaging for pharmaceuticals, and solar cells.

Mass producing glass parts still faces one bottleneck. The washing away of the PEG must be done slowly, over days, to ensure the glass parts don’t crack.

For further information see the Science article by Robert F. Service, and the Neptun Lab website.

Anouk: A tidbit

One Track: Nobody’s Wife (1997)

One Quotation: “These days adoption is a hot thing / You can get a child for nearly nothing / You take them home to a nanny / Buy off you’re guilt with toys and candy”

One Comment: Anouk Teeuwe was born 1975-04-08 in The Hague, Netherlands. Nobody’s Wife was written by Anouk, Satindra Kalpoe and Bart van Veen. The song was especially popular in the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, but was less successful elsewhere. It reached a peak position of #1 in Iceland, #2 in the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, #5 in Flanders, #6 in Denmark, #9 in Finland. With respect to the track as well as the quotation, Anouk has been married (2004) and divorced (2008) once, and given birth to six children, between 2002 and 2016.

Andrei Cerbu’s Garage

At The Smokin’ Dudes Records inside Adrei Cerbu’s garage, Strada Aurora 21, Iași, 700474 Romania. Clockwise from left to right, videographer Teodor Cusnir, public relations specialist Bader Maria, audio engineer and guitarist Andrei Cerbu and videographer Robert Ciubotaru. Here is how they describe themselves. “The Smokin’ Dudes is a group of talented young people, which besides the fact that they are passionate about music, they want to bring to the attention of the public also other talented young people. So they formed their own recording and filming studio, where they work passionately with young artists willing to show their talent.” Photo: The Smokin’ Dudes.

Yes, Andrei Cerbu will be presented as a solution, but first the problem …

For many years, I listened to modern classical music, with Henryk Górecki (1933 – 2010) being a favourite, along with Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958). Most of this was purchased as Naxos CDs, at monthly intervals. My last CD was purchased in 2008. As I approached 60, something strange happened. I reduced my listening to classical music and started listening to other genres. This included a renewed interest in electronic music and synthesizers, exemplified by Brian Eno (1948 – ), Here Come the Warm Jets (1973). More surprisingly, I started listening to industrial music and its offshoot electronic body music (EBM), electronic dance music (EDM) as well as some more metallic and harder rock.

One of the difficulties with rock/ metal is that so many of the musicians/ artists/ performers promote values that are an antithesis to mine. Thus, I have no interest in financially supporting groups promoting drugs and/ or violence, such as Guns N’ Roses. Even the name of their debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987), is an antithesis to my belief system.

Copyright

Some of the earliest music to which I am attracted was released in the 1960s but more of it came from the 1970s, or later. Take the United Kingdom, where Eno originates. Under their 1988 Copyright Act, copyright in a sound recording expires after 50 years. However, on 2013-11-01, the UK copyright on sound recordings, not yet in the public domain, was extended from 50 to 70 years. Somewhat simplified, this means that recordings made in 1962 or earlier are in the public domain. Those made in 1963 will first come into the public domain on 2034-01-01. Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets, released in 1973, will not enter the public domain on 2024-01-01 as Eno could have expect when he made the track, but on 2044-01-01. A similar situation applies in other jurisdictions, including member states of the European Union.

Note: Further details about copyright law, are provided in the last paragraph of this weblog post, after The Smokin’ Dudes Records logo.

Canada extended its copyright for recorded music to 70 years on 2015-06-23. Ottawa law professor Michael Geist criticised the copyright term extension in a weblog post: “Experience elsewhere suggests that the extension is a windfall for record companies, with little benefit to artists or the public. In fact, many countries that have implemented the extension have been forced to do so through trade or political agreements, while signalling their opposition along the way. Canada will extend term without any public discussion or consultation, yet other studies have found that retroactive extension does not lead to increased creation and that the optimal term length should enable performers and record labels to recoup their investment, not extend into near-unlimited terms to the detriment of the public. For Canadian consumers, the extension could cost millions of dollars as works that were scheduled to come into the public domain will now remain locked down for decades.”

Solutions

With twenty years of windfall profits to look forward to, the music industry has little or no incentive to invest in younger musicians. What should younger musicians do?

Andrei Cerbu (2002 – ) has found a solution to this challenge. Despite his young age, he has been a guitarist since he was seven, coming third in a Romanian national music competition at the age of eleven. Now, he has a website that promotes young, Romanian musicians. His garage at Strada Aurora 21, in Iasi, Romania functions as a recording studio, featuring The Smokin’ Dudes Records, The Smokin’ Dudes TV, two bands: Andrei Cerbu and the Rockin’ Groove, and The Iron Cross, as well as several soloists. Music is freely available, but he also provides many ways for people to support him, and other musicians, financially. These include merchandise sales, and donations through Patreon and PayPal. His YouTube channel has over 400 tracks, that are freely available for everyone to enjoy.

I sent a link to a cover of Deep Purple’s Highway Star (1972) by Cerbu’s band, The Iron Cross, to my young (under 40) nephew. He replied, “I’m not familiar with the original, but I don’t think it could be better than this version.”

Copyright details. In the United Kingdom there were relevant copyright acts in 1911, 1956 and 1988. According to this last iteration, copyright in a sound recording expires after 50 years.either (a) 50 years after the recording is made, or (b) if the recording is published during that period then 50 years from the publication, or (c) if during the initial 50 years the recording is played in public or communicated to the public then 50 years from that communication or playing to the public, provided the author of the broadcast is an European economic area (EEA) citizen. Copyright is supposed to balance the rights of creators with the rights of users/ consumers. Thus, creators are given a monopoly to profit from their recording for a specified period of time. Under this arrangement, all of the music made in Britain in the 1960s would be freely available as of 2021-01-01. As stated previously, above, on 2013-11-01, the UK copyright on sound recordings, not yet in the public domain, was extended from 50 to 70 years. This means that only recordings made in 1962 or earlier are currently in the public domain. Those made in 1963 will first come into the public domain on 2034-01-01; those made in 1973, on 2044-01-01.

Shaped by Music

First Aid Kit performing at the Cochella Festival 2018-04-14 (Photo: Raph PH/ Creative Commons by)

Rather than subjecting readers to Derek Parfit’s (1942-2017) Reasons and Persons (1984) or three volumes of On What Matters (2011), one can read a Nautilus article by Alisa Opar, or the following summary, if that is still too long: a human being is not a consistent identity moving through time, but a chain of successive selves, each linked to, but distinct from previous and subsequent ones. Procrastination is a mechanism to postpone a jump into a new state, with its new self identity.

One of the major problems with visiting previous selves, is that one is dependent on memory. Daniel Schacter (1952 – ) asserts in The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers (2001) that “memory’s malfunctions can be divided into seven fundamental transgressions or ‘sins’.” Sins of omission are the result of a failure to recall an idea, fact or event. They involve transience, absent-mindedness and blocking. With sins of commission, there is a form of memory present, but lacking the desired fidelity. These involve misattribution, suggestibility, bias and persistence.

Because of these sins, I cannot revisit my self of, for example, 1962. In terms of musical taste, I suspect it involved The Highwaymen, not the later supergroup, but a Wesleyan University group that came to prominence with their 1961 hit, Michael Row the Boat Ashore. This music was melodic. Conveniently, I try to forget that I also listened to assorted LPs of Scottish music, bought by my father, Edgar McLellan (1906 – 1991), or that I attended ballroom dancing lessons that same year, that featured the forgettable Twist. Unfortunately, I have been unable to morph my memories of the Twist into a more socially acceptable Tango. Since then, and in different ways, I have sought out non-melodious music. This does not mean that music has to be discordant or grating.

First Aid Kit = Johanna (1990 – ) and Klara Söderberg (1993 – ), produce and perform melodic music, with Emmylou (2012) a typical example. In addition to the musical attributes they demonstrate, their stage presence also projects an assortment of conservative Scandinavian values. Fast forward from 2012 to 2021, and one finds a very different pair of sisters in an interview with Alexandra Pollard. It begins with a comment about their Women’s Day (2017-03-08) “three-and-a-half minute cry of pure rage.” It is still far too melodic for my current musical taste, but at least it is political. In both this track and the interview, they tell the world they are no longer conforming, polite girls, but – to use their term – angry, feminist bitches. In both forums, they display their ability to swear. They are doing what people do, inventing new selves.

The First Aid Kit album Who by Fire (2017) is a tribute to Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016). Commenting on Cohen’s relationship with his Norwegian born muse Marianne Ihlen (1935 – 2016), they began to realised how problematic the ‘muse’ concept is. Being a muse is much like being a housekeeper. They further note that women are generally expected to be role models – princesses and angels, whose jagged edges have been sanded smooth. They, themselves, are expected to be accommodating and nice, even if it comes at the expense of their own comfort.

Unlike the 400 m long container ship Ever Given (completed 2018 – ), First Aid Kit may find it hard to change direction in mid-channel. Listeners have expectations and the music they choose represents part of their current identity. A musician cannot expect their listeners, sometimes known as fans, to shift direction in tact with themselves. However, they may attract new listeners, with different values and expectations.

Greta Thunberg (2003 – ), with her autism diagnosis, may experience less of a need to reinvent herself than the Söderberg sisters. Her diagnosis probably means that she finds it more difficult to hide her current personality behind a veil of politeness. If she decides that she is not going to fly, she is not going to fly. One can argue that sailing across the Atlantic is at least as environmentally damaging as flying across. She will express her truths, as she experiences them.

This weblog post started out very differently. It was initially about Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941), who died eighty years before the date of publication (1941-03-28). In an article about Woolf and music, Emma Sutton writes: “… [Woolf’s] extraordinary experimental uses of narrative perspective, repetition and variation derive from her close study of particular musical works and specific musical forms. Music provided Woolf (and other modernists including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Katherine Mansfield) with a vocabulary to imagine and describe their creative practice and formal innovations. Woolf, for instance, compares her diary writing to a pianist practising their scales. She describes her reading as a process of “tuning up” for her writing ….”

Sutton also states that the creativity of composers has also benefited from the reading of Woolf, and refers specifically to Dominick Argento’s (1927 – 2019) song cycle, From the Diary of Virginia Woolf (1974), Max Richter’s (1966 – ) music for the 2015 ballet Woolf Works, as well as a recent announcement that composer Thea Musgrave (1928 – ) is writing an Orlando inspired opera.

I am still unable to know the frequency at which new selves emerge, or the degree to which music inspires the creation of new selves. While music is influential in my life, technological innovations are even more important, especially miniaturization, but that will have to be a topic for yet another weblog post.

The Videographic Bubble

In Scandinavian television productions, the director has a subservient role to that of the screenwriters. Screenwriting is a team activity with the goal of developing a high-quality production. A series/ story typically takes ten episodes (eight to ten hours) to tell. In most episodes the director is a junior staff member learning film/ video as a trade. S/ he functions more as a co-ordinator than a leader. Photo: Kal Visuals/ Unsplash

The pandemic is having a detrimental effect on mental health, because people are being denied the opportunity to socialize. Single people, and single parents with children are some of those having the most difficult times. Yet, there are provisions for people in these categories to form support bubbles, at least in some communities. Once a bubble has formed, the main difficulty is finding something meaningful for the participants to do.

In this weblog post, the suggestion is to work on some form of video project. While it could involve the production of a documentary. Here, the focus is on fictional works. Plan B is to provide an opportunity to work together on a novel, or a derivative work such as a graphic novel. One reason for this focus, is at the end of the pandemic, the support bubble will have something concrete to show for their time together.

If there is any rule, it is to have fun! While doing so, learn patience. Don’t expect any early results. Allow creative energies to simmer, so the full flavour of dramatic energy emerges slowly. Savour it.

The videographic bubble regards filmmaking/ videography as a creative enterprise resulting in a work of art, rather than a commercial product. One of its aims, is to bring to life the scriptwriter in every filmmaker. Does the term screenwriter or filmmaker refer to a single individual? Perhaps in normal times, but in a pandemic it can be more fun to work collectively. Thus, the screenwriter is a collective, that morphs into a filmmaking and acting collective, if all goes well.

Previous weblog posts: In 2016, a more general Filmmaking with a social conscience was published. This was followed by a post on Institutional Cinema Theory. All of this was expected to be operationalized in Lost Tribes of Inderøy, with conceptual explanations in To Hell with Anne! These posts were followed up in 2018 with a Auteur vs Scriptwriting Team. The content of these remains valid. This current post is an attempt to relate it to the current pandemic.

The essence of the videographic bubble is to return filmmaking to small clusters of inspired, local, co-operative groups who make cinema/ film/ movies/ videos for fun, rather than profit. The idea for this weblog post emerged when I started to read an article about a major, commercial film production team, which involved anything but appropriate social distancing during the pandemic.

While, at the beginning of the millennium, there seemed an overabundance of books about digital filmmaking/ videography, far fewer emerge now. Many of those new(ish) books involves drones or weddings. One possibility is that potential guerrilla filmmakers are involved in making short documentaries for YouTube, and that they are less interested in making longer fictional content.

Canadian film producer Elliot Grove (? – ) has provided three useful books: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay (2001); Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-to-No Budget filmmaking (2004); 150 Workouts to Becoming a Filmmaker (2009). Another important writer about alternative filmmaking is the American Dan Rahmel (1969 – ) who has written Nuts and Bolts Filmmaking: Practical Techniques for the Guerilla Filmmaker (2004). Chris Jones and Genevieve Jolliffe have also written, The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook, 3rd edition, (2004). The authors started writing this in 1991, and the first edition was published in 1996. There is also a pocketbook for digital film making, published in 2011. The DV Rebel’s Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (2006) was written by Stu Maschwitz.

Some of these books are now 20 years old. Thus, there is a disparity between the technology used today, and that suggested in the books. These books can be supplemented with more modern works. Even though Bryan Michael Stoller’s Filmmaking for Dummies (2020) is new, the author is looking at mainstream (read: Hollywood) production, so it is not a suitable resource for making budget videos. Fortunately, books are not the only source of information. New videos on the technical aspects of videomaking appear on YouTube every day, and may be the best way to keep up-to-date on technical issues.

A greater problem than technology involves changing attitudes to film making. Here other resources may be needed to discuss these challenges. Eva Novrup Redvall is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark. Her research focuses on film and media production, particularly screenwriting and creative collaboration. She has written, Writing and Producing Television Drama in Denmark: From The Kingdom to The Killing (2011) and with Anne Marit Waade and Pia Majbritt Jensen has edited, Danish Television Drama: Global Lessons from a Small Nation (2020). It latter explores the international appeal of Danish television drama and Nordic Noir in the 2010s. There are lessons that can be learned by videographic bubbles, even if they lack the budgets offered by the DR (formerly Danmarks Radio = Danish Broadcasting Corporation), a public broadcasting company, founded in 1925.

The most fundamental change in recent decades is to put screenwriting at the centre of the creative process, to use a screenwriting team, and to demote the film director role to that of an activity co-ordinator. For many Scandi-noir productions, director roles are given on an episode basis to junior staff members, as training exercises.

Screenwriting software

Before committing to write a manuscript, a support bubble may want to discuss engaging in many other, and very different activities. Some people keep notes in books, others prefer to use software. There are people who use both. Joplin is one. It describes itself as an open source note taking and to-do application. It is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS. Another similar app is RedNoteBook. It is available on Windows, Linux and macOS, but not on Android or iOS.

Screenwriting programs exist for many different platforms and environments. Desktop applications are commonly available for Macs, but also for Windows and Linux machines. So far, they are elusive for Chromebooks. However, there are web applications that run solely within a browser on any type of machine, and apps that run on handheld devises. Unfortunately, many of these programs are published on a commercial basis and are expensive.

Another approach is to use a markup language. Screenplay, developed by John Pate, is an open-source formatting package for LaTeX, a software system for document preparation that separates presentation from content. Fountain, an open-source plain text markup language, has its origins in two different and non-related projects: Scrippets, developed by John August (1950 – ) and Nima Yousefi, and Screenplay Markdown, developed by Stu Maschwitz.

While it is an exaggeration to say that I used Trelby, I did play around with it, before the project was discontinued in 2012. Today (2021-01-24), I have downloaded it again, and will start to use it once more. Osku Salerma, originally from Finland, developed the program.

It is oriented towards screenwriting with an emphasis on simplicity, elegance and speed. Its screenplay editor enforced correct screenplay formatting, including pagination. There are also some auto-completion and spell checking capabilities. There are Windows and Linux versions available. When version 2.2 was released in 2012, Windows 7 was the most dominant Windows version.

For something more modern there is the Russian KIT Scenarist, another program to create screenplays, formatted to international film standards. It is partially open-source. Collaboration requires the use of cloud (other people’s server) storage, and payments. I will not be using it at the present time, but it is a backup system if Trelby fails to live up to its promise.

A Novel Bubble

Novel can be used as a noun, as in a book length fictional story. It can also be used as an adjective, referring to something new. In this particular case it refers to both, a new bubble for writing a novel. For some groups this might be an easier starting point, than writing a screenplay. In addition, it could morph into different products: what used to be referred to as a radio play or a graphic novel or a ???.

Writing a novel does not need the extensive set of tools required by a screenplay. Manuskript is an open-source toolset for novelists. It offers two writing modes. Simple mode offers only the most basic features. Fiction mode provides additional tools: summary, characters, plot, context, etc. There is also an outliner, that allows incomplete thoughts and suggestions to be organized hierarchically.

There are also some features that may be used less than others. These include the Distraction-fee mode. Then there is the Snowflake novel assistant, that encourages a single idea to grow into a complex whole with complex characters, intricate plots.

Perhaps the most important feature of this is the ability to store files in a folder that encourages collaborative editing, and allows versioning. Index cards are also available to organize thoughts, scenes, chapters, notes, etc.

Ruralization

While there is nothing in this post that restricts videography to specific geographical areas, people living in rural communities have more opportunities to videograph.

First, rural environments provide more locations where one can videograph without disturbance, than in more urban environments. This works both ways. Videographers will disturb fewer people, and other people will disturb the videographers, less frequently. In addition, it is easier to find quiet locations to avoid sound pollution, infecting scenes being recorded.

Second, ruralists have a greater opportunity to work less. One reason for this is that their housing costs relatively less, so they don’t have to work more to pay higher rents or mortgage payments. The videographic skills they learn can also be applied to more commercial uses, such as making advertisements for local companies.

Humans are frail creatures. People need to take breaks. Research has shown that taking a lunch break actually makes a person more productive. A 6 hours work day, and a 4 day work week is probably optimal. It results in a 24 hour work week, something that will soon be implemented in Finland. Work more than that, and major mistakes will be made. In another approach, Travis Bradberry contends that working 52 minutes, then taking a 17 minute break is optimal in terms of productivity. This is similar to the academic hour, that starts at 15 minutes past the hour, to accommodate people running late. It lasted 45 minutes, and provided a 15 minute break. Six of these in a day, optionally divided in two after three hours, with a 75 minute break, should be more than enough work to satisfy anyone.

Third, ruralists have a greater opportunity to play more with others. When people work extensively, there are fewer hours available for social interaction. When they work less, these opportunities expand. Play is necessary to maintain sanity.

Arcimoto

The Arcimoto Deliverator, is a last-mile battery electric delivery vehicle, made in Eugene, Oregon, USA. (Photo: Arcimoto)

Arcimoto describes itself as a manufacturer of ultra-efficient electric vehicles. These are (relatively) low cost and low environmental impact vehicles.

The Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) is a three-wheeled, two-passenger tandem = seated one behind the other, vehicle. This vehicle uses a platform that forms the basis for other models. Specifications for the FUV are shown in the table below. All values are converted and approximate. American units are available from the Wikipedia article on Arcimoto, or the company website.

Acceleration0-100 km/h in 7.5 s
Top Speed120 km/h
Turning Circle8 840 mm
Power57 kW
Range160 km city
ca 100 km @ 90 km/h
ca 50 @ 110 km/h
Overall Length2 870 mm
Overall Width1 549 mm
Max Height1 651 mm
Ground Clearance140 mm (unladen)
Wheelbase2 032 mm
Shipping Weight590 kg
GVWR816 kg
Specifications for the Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle, converted to conventional metric units.

Munro & Associates, is providing engineering advice to Arcimoto. Some of this work is related to product engineering, such as reducing vehicle weight to 500 kg. Others aspects relate to expanding production capacity and profitability. Arcimoto has two strategic directions: It can focus on expanding production to 50 000 units/year, or it can concentrate on higher profit margin products (Deliverator/ Rapid Responder) at its current 3 – 5 000 unit/year rate, or some combination of both. On 2021-01-06, Agreed to purchase a larger, 17 000 square meter manufacturing facility, a few blocks away from its previous/ current location in Eugene.

An aside: Sandy Munro (? – ) is a Canadian automotive engineer, who started his working life as a tool and die maker. He worked for Ford, starting in 1977, but left in 1988 to start his own consultancy. His work incorporates design for assembly (DFA)/ design for manufacturability (DFM) principles. His focus is on lean design, which is also the name of his website. His tear-down reports critically examine quality issues of specific vehicle models. They are most often used by assorted Asian start-ups. As the wise, old man of the automotive industry, he begins his YouTube videos with, “Hey, Boys and Girls …” Munro is also assisting Aptera with a relaunch of their vehicle, abandoned ca. 2009.

The FUV platform uses pouch cells from Farasis Energy, a Chinese battery manufacturer, providing a total of 19.2 kWh. While the battery is capable of accepting level 2 charging, Arcimoto plans on making fleet vehicles capable of handle higher charging rates.

Arcimoto is not developing in-house autonomous driving capabilities, but provide a foundation for third party hardware and software that will integrate into the vehicle platform. For example, steering is drive by wire allowing software to control wheel direction without additional hardware. Advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features will be gradually added up to level 5 (Eyes off) autonomous driving.

The Rapid Responder™ is an emergency response vehicle that retains the two passenger configuration, but has equipment found on emergency vehicles. It is inexpensive (US$ 25 000), easily manoeuvrable through traffic, and capable of reaching places inaccessible to large trucks.

The Deliverator® replaces the rear seat with a large cargo area accessible by a door on the starboard side (right side facing forward) for last-mile delivery. Because of its small footprint, it can park in places unavailable to larger vehicles.

In development is the Cameo™. The passenger seat and storage compartment is replaced with a rear-facing seat, for a camera person to film various activities. It is aimed at the “film and influencer industry”. Also in development is a flat-bed pickup variant, and the Roadster, “Anticipated to be released in the first half of 2021, the Roadster is designed to be the ultimate on-road fun machine. Built on our patented three-wheel all-electric platform, … [it] features an incredibly low and forward center of gravity, twin-motor front wheel drive, instant torque, and a fully-connected seating stance.”

On 2021-01-26, it was anounced that Arcimoto will be buying Tilting Motor Works’ assets for around US$10 million, along with Arcimoto shares. Arcimoto want to integrate these into future products. TRiO, which is the most popular three-wheel conversion kit for touring motorcycles, provides a comfortable and stable ride, but with the riding characteristics of a motorcycle. This means that the rider/ driver can drive/ pilot their vehicle as if it were a two-wheeled motorcycle, yet eliminate the need to put their feet down while at a stop, or riding in slow traffic.

Tilting Motor Works’ technology in operation. Photo: Tilting Motor Works.

Upcoming electric vehicle posts

With so much time spent researching and writing about computing, there has been less time available to research and write about electric vehicles. Currently, five drafts of weblog posts are either scheduled or pending. These are:

Aptera will be the subject of the next weblog post on electric vehicles. It is a three-wheeled streamlined (enclosed) vehicle. Originally scheduled to be launched ca. 2010, this vehicle was a focus during my teaching career. The project was abandoned, but has since been revised.

Paxster has much in common with the Arcimoto Deliverator, but is a four-wheeled vehicle. It used for urban mail distribution by the Norwegian postal service, Posten.

Frikar is a pod bike, made in Sandnes, Norway.

Eav from Electric Assisted Vehicles Limited, of Bicester, England, is an eCargo bike with electric power assistance for last-mile transport solutions.

e-Cub is about Shanghai Custom’s electric conversion of the world’s most popular vehicle, the Honda (Super) Cub, with over 100 million units having been produced since 1958.

Mobilize is the name of Renault’s new mobility division. This division will offer car-sharing, energy and data-related services to help make transportation more sustainable. Their first prototype, the EZ-1, was presented 2021-01-15. A production model could be a replacement for the Renault Twizzy.

Additional electric vehicles will be discussed in Downsizing the Garage, scheduled for 2021-10-29, the fourth anniversary of Stuffing a 10-car garage, which appeared 2017-10-29.

Mari Boine: A tidbit

Mari Boine, the Nordic Council’s music prize winner, performing at the award ceremony in Oslo, 2003. Photo: Mikael Risedal/norden.org

Mari Boine (1956-11-08 – )

One Track: Goaskinviellja / Eagle Brother (Oslo Opera House, 2009)

One Quotation: Et menneske som må skjule sin opprinnelse er bare et halvt menneske. Jeg er i ferd med å bli hel. Nå mangler jeg bare vingene. Og det må et menneske ha. Vi må kunne fly. = A human being who has to hide his/ her origins is only half a human being. I’m about to be healed. Now I’m just missing the wings. And a human being must have that. We must be able to fly.

One Comment: “Mari Boine is one of Norway’s most important artists. With her background in Sami culture and tradition, she has developed new and cross-genre musical expressions. The prize winner’s great communication ability through music and language makes her an international artist of large format.” Justification of the Arts Council Norway when it awarded Mari Boine the 2009 Honorary Award.

The Charm of Soft Synths

LMMS originally stood for Linux MultiMedia Studio. Now those initials don’t stand for anything, in part because the system has been ported to Windows as well as to MacOS. It is a perfectly adequate soft synth, for anything but the most advanced professional uses. Screenshot: lmms.io

In the previous century, electronic musical instruments often contained inferior electronic components. I discovered this working in an electronic repair shop during the early 1970s. It was here I met a pair of (for lack of a better term) electric-organ enhancers who had come in to buy used components. Their business plan involved two related activities. Plan A: They would encourage churches to replace pipe organs with their custom built electric organs. If a church already had gone over to someone else’s electric-organ, they would resort to Plan B, and offer to fine-tune it. With either plan, they would typically begin with an off-the-shelf electric-organ console, and then replace electronic components (such as resistors) with ones that were closer to the needed values, using variable resistors if necessary.

Their work held very little appeal. It was tedious and time consuming, and not particularly well paid. Fast forward almost 50 years, and the question that needs answering is: Why struggle with hardware, when one can use software? If one starts with a reasonably powerful computer, software programs can be written to take advantage of the existing hardware. Of course, regardless of the approach there will be a need for some music related audio hardware, especially microphones, speakers (or at least headphones), an audio interface and – perhaps – a musical keyboard.

Initially, Rosegarden had been considered as the underlying program for the soft synth. This was mainly because of its built-in scorewriter, that writes musical natation. Rosegarden was started in 1993 at the University of Bath. Rosegarden 2.1 (X11 Rosegarden) was released under the Gnu Public Licence (GPL) in 1997. Rosegarden 4 began in 2000 with Version 1.0 being released in 2005. The current release is Version 20.12 Altissimo, which was released 2020-12-09. The main challenge with Rosegarden is that it only works with Linux and related BDS operating systems (OS). This could restrict colaboration with people using Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OSs. In the end it was decided to use LMMS for the synth. Since scorewriting is not a feature found in LMMS, MuseScore was selected as a scorewriter. Both of these work on Linux, Windows and Mac OS.

LMMS originally stood for Linux MultiMedia Studio, and was used exclusively on Linux OSs. Now those initials don’t stand for anything, because the system has been ported to Windows as well as to MacOS. While there are many commercial and open-source software synthesizers available, LMMS is a perfectly adequate soft synth, for anything but the most advanced professional uses. As an open-source product, it is available at no cost.

LMMS is not perfect. It is gudenuf = good enough, for most amateurs. There are flaws, especially with respect to the windowing. However, these can be worked around. The main problem with any soft synth, including LMMS, is latency or lag time, which is often caused by sound being routed through a sound-server program, such as PulseAudio, an open-source program. This arises even if the audio interface to set to ALSA = Advanced Linux Sound Architecture. To correct this problem, LMMS needs to directly access the sound card. This can be done by writing and applying three lines of code.

A software synthesizer such as LMMS, will come with multiple editors, synthesizers and samplers.

  • Song Editor – arranges instruments and samples.
  • Beat+Bassline Editor – sequences rhythms.
  • FX mixer – sends audio inputs through effects and to other mixer channels.
  • Piano Roll – edit patterns and melodies
  • Automation Editor –dynamic adjustment of knob/ widget settings
  • BitInvader – wavetable-lookup synthesis
  • FreeBoy – emulator of Game Boy audio processing unit (APU)
  • Kicker – bass drum synthesizer
  • LB302 – imitation of the Roland TB-303
  • Mallets – tuned-percussion synthesizer
  • Monstro – 3-oscillator synthesizer with modulation matrix
  • Nescaline – NES-like synthesizer
  • OpulenZ – 2-operator FM synthesizer
  • Organic – organ-like synthesizer
  • Sf2 Player – a Fluidsynth-based Soundfont player
  • SID – emulates Commodore 64 chips
  • TripleOscillator – 3-oscillator synthesizer with 5 modulation modes: MIX, SYNC, PM, FM, and AM
  • Vibed – vibrating string modeller
  • Watsyn – 4-oscillator wave-table synthesizer
  • ZynAddSubFX
  • AudioFileProcessor (AFP) – sampler with trimming/ looping capabilities

LMMS supports many audio plugin standards, as do most other major modern software synthesizers and sound editors. Here, three will be discussed. Virtual Studio Technology (VST) was developed by Steinberg Media Technologies in 1996. It is used extensively in the Windows universe. VST plugins work in LMMS most of the time. However, since VSTs are written to be Windows compatible, VSTs tend to work better on Windows LMMS installations. Linux LMMS installations require Wine to be installed before these plugins can be used.

Wine HQ explains, “Wine (originally an acronym for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”) is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, & BSD. Instead of simulating internal Windows logic like a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls on-the-fly, eliminating the performance and memory penalties of other methods and allowing you to cleanly integrate Windows applications into your desktop.”

Audio Units (AU) is an equivalent system used with Apple’s macOS and iOS. LV2 stands for LADSPA Version 2. It is open-source software, used with Linux as well as other systems.

While Linux Audio Developer’s Simple Plugin API (LADSPA) still exists and is operative, it is probably best to refer to it in the past tense. Thus, it was an application programming interface (API) standard for handling audio filters and audio signal processing effects. It was open-source, licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). It was used in many free audio software projects and there were a wide range of LADSPA plugins available. It was written in the C programming language. Because of its simplicity many plugins were written using it, that were easily embedded into many other programs.

Disposable Soft Synth Interface (DSSI) was a virtual instrument (software synthesizer) plugin architecture for use by music sequencer applications. It was designed for applications running under Linux DSSI extended LADSPA to cover instrument plugins.

LV2 is a successor to both LADSPA and DSSI, but permitting easy extensibility, allowing custom user interfaces, musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) messages, and custom extensions.

All of these APIs integrate software synthesizers and effects units into a computer. They use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. Such an interface can work with almost any modern desktop or laptop computer, a dedicated digital audio workstation (DAW), and/or other dedicated equipment. Software programs can also emulate other types of hardware, including compressors, equalizers, expanders and maximizers. Many plugins emulate specific hardware models.Thus, such an API can be an affordable ways to make a spare room/ attic/ basement studio sound like a commercial operation.

It can be appropriate to distinguish between three different types of API. Software instruments generate sound in one of two ways. They either synthesize = construct or they sample = record. These APIs may produce their own distinctive sound, or imitate that of a specific hardware synthesizer.

Effects process audio rather than generating it. They act like hardware audio processors, including reverbs and phasers.

The quality of plugins can vary from outrageously poor to acceptable, depending on system resources qualities (Read: RAM, SSD capacity, processing capacity). Another challenge with samplers has to do with the quantity and quality of the samples.

There are thousands of plugins available. Some only take a few hours to produce and are free, but the quality is terrible. Some are made by huge companies and sound amazing, but are expensive. Many plugin developers try to recreate a sound that is as close as possible to that of an instrument, but the original instrument is probably always going to sound better than the plugin.

Electronic musicians/ composers may have a concept in their mind of the sound they are trying to produce. Often, it might be of an existing instrument, familiar from a particular situation. One example might be try to produce a rich, full-bodied church organ sound. While there are numerous such organs in existence, it may not be possible for that composer to access one, or a sufficiently talented organist. No one has access to every type of instrument, or every type of musician, so a plugin will have to do. The good news is that as computers evolve, plugin technology is able to take advantage of these evolutionary improvements, so that their quality improves with time.

Users will often say that a scorewriter engraves sheet music. This implies a higher order operation that creates, edits and prints a score. A scorewriter is to music notation what a word processor is to text, providing flexible editing, automatic layout and high-quality output.

One of the main values of a modern scorewriter is its ability to record notes played on a MIDI keyboard. Here it will also be used to play music back on the synth. Of course, it is possible to input data for a composition using a tablet, or touch-screen based computer. MIDI is most often a more appropriate solution for a softsynth. MIDI controllers produce MIDI effects that create MIDI messages that send MIDI data to the softsynth, or to other instruments and hardware, including speakers.

Donald Lewes Hings (1907 – 2004)

Don Hings (1942-03-09)

Donald Lewes Hings (1907-11-06 – 2004–02-24) was born in Leicester, England, but moved to western Canada with his parents when he was three. He grew up in Rossland, in the Kootenays, halfway between Vancouver and Calgary, and 10 km north of the Canada/ United States border.

He was a pioneer in the field of telecommunications, and best known for his invention of the Walkie-Talkie. Previously, mobile radios were mounted on vehicles and transmitted in Morse code. Hings’ model, developed in 1937 while working at Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (CM&S) now, Cominco) in Trail, British Columbia, was portable and could transmit the human voice over long distances. He called his invention the packset.

During the Second World War (1940-1945) Hings worked for the National Research Council, on loan from CM&S, working with the Signal Corps to develop military communications, including the military walkie-talkie. From 1946-1985, he worked for Electronic Laboratories of Canada as President & Chief Engineer. The company was started 1942-11-02 as a subsidiary of Electronic Laboratories, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. It was dissolved 1998-09-21.

Between 1975 and 1993, he devoted his time to developing instrumentation for measurements of the causes and effects of long-range air pollution vectors.

In 1946 he was awarded the Member of the British Empire by King George VI. In 2001 he was presented with the Order of Canada by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. In 2006 he was inducted into the Telecommunications Hall of Fame because “his modifications of the two-way radio … which he evolved into the world’s first functional and operational walkie-talkie, saved the lives of thousands of British, Canadian and American troops during the Second World War and helped to usher modern telecommunications technologies into the military”.

Despite being a lifetime member of the Professional Engineers Associations of British Columbia and Ontario, the American Geophysical Union and the Canadian Signal Corps, his professional education was self-taught. He had no university education.

His life work includes a wide-range of antenna, radio technologies and geophysical exploration techniques using electromagnetic instrumentation that he developed. He has more than 55 patents to his name in both Canada and the US.

On 2000-02-13 Roger Chaisson, Bruce Waugh and David Billings were awarded the People’s Choice Award at the Ottawa Winterlude Festival for their 4 m tall ice sculpture dedicated to Don Hings. It depicted a Red Cross soldier in the Second World War, speaking into a C-48 walkie-talkie.

Hings was adept at Morse code, and was an amateur radio operator, with call sign VE7BH. His obituary notes that he talked to “HAM boys” well into his 90s.

Hings lived in Burnaby, a municipality immediately east of Vancouver, at the summit of the 203 m high Capitol Hill, a neighbourhood north of Hastings Street, east of Willingdon Avenue, and west of Fell Avenue, known for its Italian, Portuguese and Croatian immigrant communities. He first saw Capitol Hill on a Scout outing in 1918, and decided then and there that he wanted to live there. He bought ca. 2.5 city blocks of the area, built his house there in the late 1940s. This is where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

He located his business on a compound at this site. Seven of the staff members that worked for him in Ottawa, relocated to Capitol Hill when the company was established. Ultimately, he sold building lots to a staff of 15 at the same price he had paid for them, so they could live close by their place of work.

In addition to other patents, he has one for an electric piano. It consists of tuned steel bars that set up a moving magnetic field that creates pure tones, minus the harmonics, It is small, compact and never needs to be tuned. In addition it is equipped with a speaker and volume control.

Much of the information for the Weblog post is sourced from the D. L. Hings website.

The C-58 Walkie Talkie is less portable than today’s hand-held devices.


Buffy Saint-Marie: A tidbit

Buffy Sainte- Marie at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Concert, Ottawa, Canada, 2015-06-15. Photo: Drpeterstockdale/ Wikimedia Commons

Buffy Sainte-Marie (1941-02-21 – )

One track: Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Universal Soldier

One quotation: “Language and culture cannot be separated. Language is vital to understanding our unique cultural perspectives. Language is a tool that is used to explore and experience our cultures and the perspectives that are embedded in our cultures.”

One comment: Today, Buffy Sainte-Marie celebrates her 80th birthday. My appreciation of her is in large part based on one song, The Universal Soldier. It points a finger at each and every person for the perpetration of war. At one time, I also owned a version of this song by the 1960s Wesleyan College folk group, The Highwaymen, on their One More Time (1964) album. Covers of the song have been made in 1965 by both Glen Campbell (1936 – 2017) in as well as Donovan (1946).