• First impressions of the new Moog Sound Studio

    Robert Moog (1934-2005) was the inventor of the Moog synthesizer, which he introduced in 1964. His Minimoog, which debuted in 1970, was the first synthesizer to be sold in stores. It cost $1,600 at the time. (You can buy an iOS version of the Minimoog Model D Synthesizer for $15.)

    Moog produced many of the most famous synthesizers and effects pedals, including the Minimoog, the Polymoog, the Moog Liberation, the Voyager, the Taurus Bass Pedals, the Memory Moog, the Little Phatty, and the Moogerfooger Analog Delay. 

    A few weeks ago, I got a new offering from Moog, called the Moog Sound Studio. It includes two different synthesizers. One is the Subharmonicon (2020, $700), and the other is a percussion synth called the DFAM (2018, $600). It also includes a mounting rack, a mixer, patch cables, and a set of beautifully illustrated books. It costs about $1,500.

    You must supply your own headphones or speakers with a 3.5mm jack. The one thing that was missing that I wanted was a way to plug it into my computer to record sounds. Fortunately, I had one of these USB audio sound card adapters that I bought on AliExpress for $5, which works OK (it hums a little) but probably isn't as good as a slightly more expensive like this one.

    I'm not a professional musician, but the Moog Sound Studio is a lot of fun, and I'm delighted with it. To my surprise, I've been playing with it almost every day. I've found that I can easily get lost for hours without noticing that time has passed. Twirling the knobs and randomly plugging in patch cords is a journey of surprise and discovery — you never know what sound you'll get. I'm also visiting websites and YouTube channels that show different settings, which has been helpful. 

    One thing that's nice about the Moog Sound Studio is that there are no menus or screens to distract you from playing. The Subharmonicon and the DFAM are physical instruments, and it's just a matter of experimenting with them to find interesting sounds.

    There's still so much to learn! The Moog Sound Studio has a lot of features that I haven't even explored yet. I'm focusing on making polyrhythms on the Subharmonicon now. I haven't used the DFAM yet, because the Subharmonicon's feature set is enough for me to deal with for the time being.

    I'm looking forward to getting more comfortable with it and exploring its creative possibilities.

  • Cute squirrel with big ears swaps things it finds for nuts

    This adorable creature has found a friend to swap inedible husks for delicious nuts. In this video, we see it standing outside a window with an empty shell in its mouth. Its human friend opens the window and the squirrel pops ,in drops the shell in the human's hand and goes to work on an almond. The squirrel doesn't seem to mind it when the human strokes its fur, either.

    We're happy to see this trans-species friendship that has blossomed.

    From the CDC: "Small rodents (like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice) and lagomorphs (including rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to transmit rabies to humans."

  • California woman charged with hate crime against Black Amazon driver

    Julie Walrand of Berekely, California (35) doesn't seem happy in this photo. That because it's a mugshot taken after she was arrested for committing a hate crime, battery, and false imprisonment against a Black delivery driver in April.

    Walrand and her boyfriend reportedly followed the Amazon driver because they thought he was speeding. When they caught up with him, Walrand and her boyfriend confronted him and she called him the N-word more than once. Fortunately, a witness in a house across the street took a video of the encounter.

    The victim told KRON4, that Walrand "Instantly just started cursing me out like, first sentence I'm getting cursed at. Very derogatory language, I was getting constant F-bombs thrown at me. I was getting racially profiled from the jump." He also said Walrand entered the delivery vehicle and grabbed the steering wheel for several minutes.

    From the police report: "Based on the above information, officers arrested the driver on suspicion of PC 236—False imprisonment, PC 242—Battery, PC 415(3)—Using offensive words and PC 422.6(a)—willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics."

  • Watch The Daily Show's 9-minute documentary on Ted Cruz: "a nightmare of a human being"

    This scathing 9-minute look at the life Ted Cruz can be summed up in a quote by Craig Mazin, creator of the five-part miniseries Chernobyl and Ted Cruz's college roommate at Princeton:

    "Ted Cruz is a nightmare of a human being. I have plenty of problems with his politics, but truthfully, his personality is so awful that 99 percent of why I hate him is just his personality. If he agreed with me on every issue, I would hate him only 1 percent less."

    The rest of The Daily Show's takedown is filled with examples that show Mazin's assessment is correct. In the end, it doesn't matter to Texas voters that Cruz is a backstabbing, ass-kissing, cowardly, lying, mean-spirited hypocrite of the worst kind. As long as he keeps promising that fascist theocracy they dream of, he'll remain in Washington. And if he ever wins the White House, he'll show no mercy to anyone who stood in his way.

  • "This is definitely the most bizarre question I have ever seen on a job application"

    Twitter user @beeta was asked this unusual question on a job application: "You've been given an elephant. You can't give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?"

    Employers ask this kind of question because they want to see how you think.

    Here are some of the replies to @beeta's tweet:

    • I took a class on how to respond to job interview questions once and they used this exact one as an example. The answer they're looking for is "Open a business where you hire the elephant out for events like birthday parties."
    • And then there's me who'd break the bank getting it to a wildlife refuge. Elephants are incredible, majestic creatures and I'm a little offended they want you to imprison them and force them to make you money.
    • Unfortunately I can no longer work here, raising this elephant is my full time job. We are going to travel from town to town solving mysteries.
    • raise it like your child and start a wildly successful instagram account documenting your life with an elephant son
    • Since the premise is unrealistic, so too should be the answer. Shrink it to cat size and keep it as a pet.
    • I decline to accept the gift of the elephant under these terms. Its better to address broken requirements upfront than to hope you can work around them later by creative heroics.
    • Give me the job or my elephant will sit on your car.
  • This earwax remover with a built-in camera is cheap with a discount code

    I have a different model Bebird earwax remover, but this one looks like it has the same functionality (use code 2689TV4X at checkout for a discount). It's basically a little scoop with a Wifi connected video camera to help you see what you are doing instead of blindly digging around in your ear canal. The smartphone app gives you a clear video of your ear canal (but if you have hairy ears, you might want to trim them first). I get a lot of build-up in my right ear (my left ear not so much weirdly enough) so using this once every couple of weeks noticeably improves my hearing. Don't use this without having your doctor show you how to safely use it, of course.

  • TikToker shares way to find the cheapest flights

    TokToker Christian Grossi claims that using a private browser will keep airlines from jacking up the price. He also shares a few other tips about getting the cheapest flight fares in this video, like using flights.google.com and browsing the map instead of entering a destination city.

  • The Lincoln Project's "digital footprint has flatlined" after Trump and scandals

    The Lincoln Project, founded by a coterie of anti-Trump Republicans, enjoyed huge popularity in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election. It made a name for itself with short Trump-trolling videos that quickly went viral. Liberal donors opened their wallets and money gushed in. But then two things happened: Trump lost and people found out the Lincoln Project's founders were, by and large, a bunch of corrupt rightwing creeps and sex predators. The result: "social media collapse," according to The Washington Free Beacon. "The Lincoln Project's mentions have plummeted since Trump left office in January. Mentions fell 55 percent from January to February, and an additional 25 percent in March. In April, the group's mentions fell 14 percent from March totals.

    From The Washington Free Beacon:

    With Trump gone, the organization has been more consumed with allegations of grifting tens of millions of dollars from liberal donors and covering up an alleged pedophile than with defeating Trumpism.

    The group is attempting to regroup, bringing on Fred Wellman as executive director despite his six figures of debt. The Washington Free Beacon reported that Lincoln Project cofounder Rick Wilson paid off his own mortgage 16 years ahead of schedule amid bombshell reports that the organization knew about allegations of John Weaver's inappropriate relationships with children as young as 14 years old.

    The fall of the Lincoln Project is a great example of what happens when rightwingers try to make a name for themselves in the culture war by pretending to be against the things Donald Trump stands for.

  • Why do the Carters look tiny compared to the Bidens in this photo?

    It's true that people get shorter in their golden years, but this photo makes it look like Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter are starring in a remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man. To find out what's going on, The Guardian asked its resident photography expert, Carly Earl, to explain what's going on.

    I'm sure Joe Biden is quite a bit taller than Rosalynn, but not by that much. The image is possibly distorted by using a wide-angle lens. When taking photos in a smaller space you often don't have room to move far enough back to get everyone in the frame, so you use a lens that can take it all in. Unfortunately, if you use a lens that is really wide, while also standing very close to the subjects, it will distort the photo, making those close to the camera appear giant while shrinking those further away.

  • The Victorinox Airox Frequent Flyer Hardside is the perfect carry-on (at least for me)

    I'm fully vaccinated and my travel calendar is filling up fast. I wanted a new travel bag my criteria were:

    • Carry-on size
    • four wheels (not just two)
    • Lightweight
    • Not a lot of pockets or compartments (I put my small stuff in these Japanese mesh zipper bags so I don't need extra compartments)
    • Orange colored, if possible (I like colorful luggage)

    The Victorinox Airox Frequent Flyer Hardside fit the bill. It weighs only five pounds and rolls very smoothly on large wheels without having to tilt it. The handle locks at three different heights, which is useful in different situations. Each half of the polycarbonate clamshell has a zippered mesh divider. All the zippers are smooth and the pull tabs fit neatly into the combination lock so they aren't dangling and at risk of breaking.

    I own a lot of Victorinox gear and like it, so I'm not surprised by how nice this bag is. If you're still thinking of a Mother's Day gift, this is a good option.

  • How to drill a keyring hole in an AirTag

    Our friends at iFixIt did a tear down of Apple's new $29 AirTag tracking device. They also identified three safe place to drill a keyring hole if you don't want to buy a bulky and expensive holster.

    iFixIt

    While Apple sells an AirTag holder for $13, and cheaper third-party models are already filling up online store listings, a DIY hole gets an AirTag onto a keyring or loop with as little extra space and mass as possible. Even in the tiniest single-purpose device, there is room to hack, and we'll fight for your right to do it.

  • Touchscreen replaces handle in bathroom faucet — what could go wrong?

    Dr. Steven W. Thrasher tweeted: "I am not cut out for this modern world, especially one where touchscreens have replaced the reliable technology of a 'handle' in bathrooms—and where you can't wash your hands because 'internal storage running out' means 'applications & system functions may not work well.'"

    I looked up the VODXS company and learned that "each VODXStream faucet is connected to a larger network." Just want hand-washers have been waiting for!

    Our Visual On Demand Experience System. Fast powerful consumer interaction that you control, with ads hyper-targeted by gender, location, date and time guaranteed. The new alternative to online advertising. It's more effective with better recall, ads can't be blocked by software and will never appear alongside offensive content. It also costs less for impressions and engagements than on Facebook or YouTube.

    [Image: Twitter]

  • Ted Cruz publicly threatens "woke" corporations that he will no longer take their bribes

    In a barefaced, spiteful opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, Ted Cruz told corporations who support Georgia's anti-democratic election laws that he will no longer accept their bribes in exchange for ignoring their malfeasance:

    This time, we won't look the other way on Coca-Cola's $12 billion in back taxes owed. This time, when Major League Baseball lobbies to preserve its multibillion-dollar antitrust exception, we'll say no thank you. This time, when Boeing asks for billions in corporate welfare, we'll simply let the Export-Import Bank expire.

    In my nine years in the Senate, I've received $2.6 million in contributions from corporate political-action committees. Starting today, I no longer accept money from any corporate PAC. I urge my GOP colleagues at all levels to do the same.

    When the time comes that you need help with a tax break or a regulatory change, I hope the Democrats take your calls, because we may not. Starting today, we won't take your money either.

    (Image: Jamelle Bouie, CC-BY)