11 pm, Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Current mood: calm
It happens that my great, great, great, great, great grandfather is the celebrated musicologist and 18th century composer Dr Charles Burney. In consideration of this, when I was in England a month ago I paid a visit to his grave at the Royal Chelsea Hospital. I told him that I wasn't sure whether my musical talent had come from him but it was good to catch up after all these years. I took some photos and left.
Back in Australia I searched online and found some of his musical manuscripts. I was curious to know what his works were like, as he is currently only considered a minor composer of his era and even then they were only moderately well received. It is difficult reading hand written manuscript unless it is really clear and I sympathise with the long-suffering musicians of the time who had only that to work from. I thus began the tedious process of transcribing his "Sinfonia in C moll" but while I was researching this I came across 3 of his "Catches" or "Rounds" as they are known these days. One in particular took my ear and I halted my work on the symphony and transcribed that instead.
The piece in question was untitled but working from the lyrics I have given it the title: "Mortals Learn Your Lives To Measure". The lyrics to the second verse are by John Milton from his Masque "Comus". I found a first verse in various places elsewhere on the net which may well be by another author as I didn't find that verse in Comus. The song has been set to music by at least 2 other composers. I don't know when Charles Burney composed his setting but I estimate it to have been around 1760.
After transcribing the piece I set about harmonising it. I find this to be one of the most enjoyable parts of composing music as the challenge is to hear the unwritten chords behind the melody. In theory there are many possible harmonisations for any given piece but the more one goes through the process, and the more one explores existing music, and the more one understands how it works, the more one realises that there is usually only one OPTIMAL harmonisation. My goal is always to find that optimal harmonisation!
This piece in particular seemed to be speaking to me and I found gem after gem behind the melody which I wrote down. One note in particular (the 1st Eb on line 4) and the chord that went with it worried me as it destroyed the intricate build up preceding it, so after playing through it again the following morning I raised it one semitone and put in a diminished chord and the problem was solved. I also dropped the key which required a high baritone. There is still a quite large compass on this piece though as you often need when writing a 3 or 4 part round.
I was intrigued with the question of how it worked as a round so I created two more staves and copied the melody across to each, delaying them in turn. It was soon clear that the proper offset was 8 bars which makes sense when you consider that the piece is 24 bars long and Burney specifies 3 voices. I got the computer to play the 3 parts simultaneously and yes, it was quite pleasant, although not truly great.
I wanted to know how the inherit harmonisation in the round compared to mine on the flat so I printed out the staves and analysed it. I have written rounds myself so I know what goes on behind the scenes to make them work. I found that Burney's harmonisation was almost identical to mine for the first 8 bars! In Burney's round that is as far as it goes, as it must repeat each 8 bars. No such problem for me however, working on the flat, and my harmony diverges and takes wings after this point and boots the song up into a higher plane (IMO).
It was a fascinating exercise to collaborate with my long dead ancestor and to produce a quality song of complex harmony with an important message. It also had some interesting challenges in its own right, finding the right chords for a silent beat for example! I feel I know a little about him that one can't learn from a book after doing this and I trust that he is happy with what I have done. I know that I am!
The Expanse by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
2:00pm, Sunday, November 26, 2017
Current mood: numb
I bought a laptop, a shiny new HP 15 BA038AU with AMD Quad-Core A6-7310 APU (2.0/2.4GHz, 2MB L2 Cache), 15.6" 1366x768 HD LED Screen, 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive, AMD Radeon™ R4 HD Graphics etc. Nice specs for the time, "A bargain! I thought. Yes it comes with Windows 10 but how bad can it be?
Very bad! Is the answer to that question. It is plain from the first moment exposed to that repulsive abortion that Microsoft have taken their evil pills and decided to out-evil Apple! The first truly intolerable and unacceptable face of Windows 10 was the fact that you cannot turn off the auto update! Even when you are just using a Wifi hotspot on your mobile phone Windows will suck gigabytes of useless data, smashing your credit, stealing all your bandwidth and locking out all other apps. Even if you liked the idea of Windows 10 you are still left with a computer that is unusable. It is a brick! An expensive brick that is costing you more money every minute.
There are numerous other problems with the mess that is Windows 10. For example: it is patently obvious that the interface is absurdly ugly! Why? No reason... just that MS are now run by morons obsessed with their own faeces and they like to live with their heads up their rectums. The contest between apps and programs is farcical. The contest between control panel and the new thing is super irritating. There are numerous other problems that can only be seen as STUPIDITY! The architects of this mess are morons and deserve to be killed. I mean that! When you look at the damage they have done worldwide to innocent, well meaning people and the destruction of corporate output you will see that they are worse that most terrorists.
Yes, it is an horrendous mess and I cannot find even ONE thing good to say about it! I quickly decided that it was beyond hope and I determined that I would go back to Windows 7 or die in the attempt. Little did I know how close I would come...
You don't like the OS installed on your PC? "No prob!" you say, "Just format the hard disk and install another. Easy!" Yes, I would have said the same thing, until I tried to do it...
Firstly: You can't format the system disk while the system is running. Ok, so I'll just remove the hard disk and format it with my desktop PC.
Secondly: You can't easily remove the HDD from this laptop. It's not like the old days when they had a nice little compartment accessible from the back with a couple of screws... No! This one you have to remove the entire back and even after I had taken out all the screws it was not clear how separate it... I retreated, rather than break something and tried another way.
I thought to myself: "You need a boot disk anyway so just fire up the Win7 install and away you go!"...
Not so easy...
This laptop, like so many other new ones, contains no DVD drive. The preferred way to install a new OS is via a bootable USB drive. NP, you can download the last Win7 install image from Digital River for nothing and load it on a USB stick of the appropriate size, boot from it and Voila! You'll be running installing in no time! Sorry folks... That ain't gonna work.
This laptop, like all modern computers comes with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a replacement for the beloved and trusted BIOS that had served us so well for the last 30 years. MS in their evil mode have carefully decided upon a strategy to FORCE all their customers to migrate to Win10 whether they like it or not. Part of this strategy is to make all modern hardware incompatible with older OSs such as XP and Win7. Enter UEFI which is NOT compatible with those old and beloved OSs.
MS don't own HP, so why should HP do their evil work for them? Who knows? Perhaps they are being paid behind the scenes? Perhaps they are just plain stupid creatures of habit? Anyway, the laptop comes with UEFI on by default. I hadn't heard of UEFI so it was quite a surprise for me to discover that a perfectly good boot disk wouldn't run.
Fortunately I am a resourceful pachyderm with access to the internet and I was able to find out about it and what to do about it.
Yes, HP do provide the option in their BIOS (or is it UEFI) to disable UEFI and revert to a legacy style Basic Input, Output System (BIOS). But how to get to the BIOS screen? The anally retentive HP engineers were so obsessed with their own feculent software that they didn't provide any clues as to what the hotkey was to bring up the BIOS. It turned out that the key is "esc" but no thanks to HP for not revealing that.
What is the issue with giving the end user options? If they want to access the BIOS settings LET THEM! It's their fucking computer is it not?
Anyway, apart from turning off the idiot feature I still had to make a bootable USB and wasn't sure how to do it. I thought I could use my trusty Easy CD-DA Extractor to burn a bootable image but it wouldn't do that to USB so I had to look elsewhere. I came across Rufus and various torrentable images but eventually I found the Windows 7 clean installs and the "Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool" from MS and quickly burned a bootable USB stick.
So I plugged the stick in, rebooted the lappy and "Hey presto!": Windows 7 setup!
That was until the 3rd screen where I got the "A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing" message. So what was that driver? After EXTENSIVE research online I came to the conclusion that it must be the USB 3 drivers that were missing as they were not part of Win 7. I mucked around and finally got hold of an adding utility that would patch the Win7 ISO file to include the missing drivers. A pain in the arse to do. I had to run the patch then reburn the ISO image then try the boot again.
Nothing! No difference! What a pain!
Persistence is important if you want to get computers to behave and EVENTUALLY I found the critical note that all the other online supposed experts had missed: Ironically it came from MS themselves at answers.microsoft.com:
"When Windows is asking for driver, just click Cancel. You will be brought back to the welcome screen. At the welcome screen, remove your USB drive, insert it back to DIFFERENT USB PORT. Click Install Now again"
An almighty cludge if I've ever seen one but it DID work! Fornicate Microsoft between the eyes for this nightmare! How long did I spend solving this part? I hate to think.
YES! I could now get past the error message, KILL the abhorred Win10 and get back my beloved Win7!
As previously mentioned HP had agreed to assist the Evil Empire with their plan to be more evil than Apple, for whatever reason, and I now learned that they did not and would not provide a driver package for Windows 7. Without drivers you're screwed one might think but investigation revealed that much of the software could be found in other machines which DID have Win7 drivers so I resolved to have a go and see what I could find.
HP forums were quite helpful and I found myself with a good array of drivers that might or might not work. What the hell! Let's go for it!
Yes, it took some mucking around and experimentation but eventually I had a fully working system. The critical piece was the video drivers. The Intel drivers were crap, I had to get the Radeon drivers. But the latest Radeon drivers were flawed: They had removed the colour saturation adjustment control. Why do those idiot manufacturers do that? Why remove the ability to make your product work properly?
I don't know how poor your colour discrimination is but I can tell you that I have noticed over the years that the GREAT MAJORITY of people have their computers and TVs set to look washed out. People wander around all day looking at the rich and vibrant colours of the real world but when they look at a screen they don't notice that it is a pale copy of the real thing. Why? Because people are stupid!
And why is it that virtually ALL TVs and computers come washed out by default? Why? The manufacturer could just as easily make them come properly saturated by default. It wouldn't cost any more... Fucktards!
Anyway. I digress... I am not about to tolerate a washed out display so again I researched and found that the pests only removed the option after v15, so I just had to source v15 and I would be fine. And so it proved. It was a pain indeed to source those drivers but eventually... Eventually I had a rich vibrant display.
I loaded up my software and numerous files of multimedia and other things. I found that everything worked fine and I was content. This was what I had expected when I first bought the machine...
But not quite everything worked... There was one thing that didn't: True Crypt!
A laptop is a travelling computer. It has a much greater than normal chance of being stolen. If you don't want unprincipled strangers ferreting around in your personal data, finding sensitive documents such as pictures, letters, passwords and bank details it is best to encrypt the entire drive and then all they have is a piece of hardware.
I found True Crypt worked brilliantly on my other computers. It was reliable, easy to use and didn't slow the system down noticeably. I wanted to use it on the new machine but it refused to encrypt the system because it would only work with partition tables in Master Boot Record (MBR) format. Like so many other trusted, reliable, compatible standards it had been blown into the weeds some years before and the new hard disk had been partitioned with the modern Globally Unique IDentifier Table (GUID) also known as GPT.
Oddly enough GPT is part of the UEFI standard... There are advantages in this new standard, not the least of which is the ability to deal with drives larger than 2 TB. This wouldn't have been a problem if the makers of TrueCrypt had updated their program to allow for the new standard... but they didn't. They mysteriously abandoned the project in 2014, leaving users to try and find an alternative.
In a perfect world, as is imagined in the capitalist philosophy, when one product is removed another vendor will create a new one to take its place. Furthermore when customers are dissatisfied with existing products, new ones will be created to satisfy those customers. Unfortunately this model doesn't work in reality, and certainly not in the computer world where software products have been going backwards in quality and variety since the 1990s.
Yes, there are a couple of alternatives to TrueCrypt: VeraCrypt and BitLocker.
Unfortunately VeraCrypt is written by another anal retentive who can't see the forest for the trees. Yes, it works with GPT but is so obsessed with maximising cryptographic unbreakability that it is too slow to use. Who wants a computer that runs at half speed all the time or that takes 4 days to copy 100 GB of data? Not me! Disembowel him on a stake!
Of course: Microsoft's utility is of no use. Why would it be? It is created by the Evil Empire after they took their evil pills. You pretty much need to be running Win10 to use it which defeats the whole point, so it was out.
Other alternatives weren't credible so I had a real problem which was indicative of the whole problem of the computer industry: The old, good stuff can't work anymore and the new modern stuff is intolerable, defective junk. What to do?
There was only one thing to do and that was to reinstall Win7 and this time install it with MBR. I knew it had to be done but I put it off and put it off. However, with 2 days to go before leaving for OS I could delay no more and I had to make the switch.
Just reinstall with the right partition format, how hard can it be? ... "Abandon all hope, Ye who enter here."1
I tried running a few 3rd party partition managers. Some of them claimed to be able to convert a partition on the fly. One: EaseUS was a con whereby a "Free" version was just a conduit to a pay for the full version screen. Another: Aomei Partition Assistant actually made an attempt but trashed the boot sector and got no further. I wasn't too worried as I had to reinstall anyway but it is annoying that NONE of the products that claim to be able to do a job can actually do it! Partition Magic, the old trusted product is no longer made. Yet another example of the broken nature of the computer industry paradigm.
The only real method was to repartition the drive during install, but MS don't give you the tools... or do they?
After more research I found that one can cancel the installation then shell out to the command window with shift F10. From there you can execute command line instructions including various relating to partitioning.
I followed a pest online who suggested the following:
Type "diskpart". Brings up the disk partition manager.
Type "list disk". Brings up a list of disks and their numbers. Note the number of the disk you want to make MBR.
Type "select disk x". Sets the program to work on disk x. (Use the number noted above)
Type "clean". Converts the empty disk to MBR.
He was right up until the last line which is wrong! Clean does not convert to MBR! Now listen retards: If you don't ACTUALLY know what you are talking about: DON'T go and post it on the net!
Yes, he certainly wasted a fair bit of my time before I found out that the last two lines should be:
Type "clean". Removes all partition information from the disk.
Type "convert mbr". Converts the empty disk to MBR.
Ok! I had a clean MBR partition. I shelled back into Win Setup and installed only to find: System disk is still GUID. WTF!!!
Man! This nearly broke me I've gotta say... I tried and tried but I could not get it to stay partitioned as MBR. I was going to give up but looked in the mirror and invoked my ultimate power as an Uru2. Infinite power made the difference and I found the tiny paragraph hidden away on the net amidst all the time wasters and horn blowers: "Win7 system partition defaults to the partition format on the install disc." WTF? How stupid is that?
Why would they do that? and furthermore: Why would they not tell you? and furthermore: Why would they not give you the option?
I checked and yes, my USB Win7 boot disk was inexplicably partitioned as GPT. My other, identical USB drive was partitioned as MBR.
When you look at all the time, angst and destruction that came about because of this tiny eccentric occurrence you can begin to understand the nature and mechanism of the Martian Curse3. You might assess this as "just a little bit of bad luck", but I know better, being intimately acquainted with the vast trail of such little bits of bad luck occurring on a daily basis and the enormous concomitant destruction they have wreaked upon my life over the decades.
Consider the incredible artistry in this little piece of luck. Consider the immense effect on my life of such a tiny thing. Consider the ostensible innocence of the little eccentric occurrence. Who could ever suspect it of being a carefully targeted attack on the life of Warren Mars?
As I have said: "I know better". Over the years I have developed a feel for such things and I can see the power and malice behind them. Why they wish to torture me so I have no idea, but it is certain that that is their goal.
Anyway, having found the seed of evil it was time consuming but straightforward to re-partition the USB key and reburn the Win7 install.
But then the USB key wouldn't boot.
A USB key that previously booted happily would not boot after I converted its partition to MBR. What is going on there?
I believe that here you can see the stark, desperate, evil hand of the Martian Curse that was prepared in the case to come out of the shadows and be filmed committing a crime. A crime for which there is no forgiveness and the harshest of penalties. I tell you that I can feel the mind of the Martian Curse at work and this one reeks of sour grapes.
I appealed once again to the infinite power of my Uru though the mechanism of the mirror and I quickly found the antidote to the cheating of my enemies who had clearly resorted to power beyond Orithia to achieve their ends.
I went into the BIOS setup and booted DIRECT from the USB key. Success!
I've NEVER had to do this in my entire computing career of 32 years. NEVER! But this time I did. Explain that if you can. I'm sure if you try hard enough you will find a plausible reason but I believe it was the Martian Curse that lies so heavily upon me and casts such a huge shadow on my life.
Having finally got my HP laptop smoothly running Windows 7 and my hard disk encrypted I packed it in my luggage and headed off OS to England where I fired it up and linked to a WIFI point. All good! Except I couldn't use the printer... Why? Because the printer needed a USB 3 port and the USB 3 drivers I thought I had installed weren't the right ones.
Although it is a HP laptop the USB ports are made by AMD, the hardware manufacturer responsible for the CPU and the graphics. But the Radeon drivers install v15 did not install the USB drivers. The Intel drivers did not work. I researched the matter online and found numerous links to drivers and numerous "words of wisdom" but nothing that actually worked!
Eventually I found the link to the CORRECT drivers. But the drivers still wouldn't load! WTF! More bullshit Martian Curse... I swore, scratched my head and searched and searched... Finally, one tiny paragraph hidden any in a sleepy corner of the net gave the answer:
The AMD one will not install if you run setup due to some bug. Instead you must extract the two required directories from Packages>Drivers>SBDrv>. The directories are: 'amdxhc' and 'amdhub'. These must be copied elsewhere (such as the desktop) to get around the stupid bug. The install wizard must then be pointed at these two directories.
You can't believe how hard it was to find out this. Many pages on the web list the AMD driver package but only one post (from Teestech) actually explains how to get around the bug. You would think that all the other people would have bothered to see whether their fix worked before posting it... but no. Why is it that people feel compelled to put stuff up on the web that is WRONG! If all you dickheads kept your mistakes and ignorance to yourselves and left "words of wisdom" to those who actually KNOW, we would all find what we need in a flash.
Anyway kudos to Teestech for getting it right! The drivers installed and USB3 port was functional and I could then print via USB! Job done! Downgrade perfected! Microsoft and HP beaten! Woooooooooooot!
Ostensibly this is an illustration of just how broken the modern world of computing has become: Essentially modern applications are horrendous, bloated, disfunctional, bug-ridden piles of expensive junk. They are not just bad, they are unusable! But thanks to the brain-dead, paranoid greed of the major manufacterers it is impossible to go back to the trusted older generation of software that actually WORKED.
Well... almost impossible. If one is sufficiently determined such a thing can still be done, but the obstacles are huge (especially on a laptop)! I succeeded against all odds and therefore so can you! This blog entry will give you a guide to overcome at least some of the problems you will face. Don't give up because the end result is WORTH IT!
ALL the major manufacturers including Microsoft, Google, and Apple are wrong headed, incompetent, feculent paragons of evil and they MUST be destroyed! The products they are churning out simply don't do the job and they are forcing the world to waste its time on fiddling with hardware and software problems instead of getting on with life.
We need to stop this people. For a start we need to unite against Windows 10. We need to send a clear message to Microsoft that we are NOT going to tolerate it! We can do this by downgrading all our Windows 10 devices back to Windows 7 and turning off auto update. We need to take our PCs back to the days when things worked. This is not always easy but do it we must. Only then can we stop the mess.
Yes, this saga has been an illustration of the brokeness of the modern world... but underlying this can be discerned a palimpsest of the power of the Martian Curse. You can say it's just computers, or just bad luck, but when you add it to all the other bizarre and incredibly unlikely events in this saga it's all starting to get a bit hard to swallow. I've lost count of how many times I've installed different versions of Windows on different hardware platforms. There have been difficulties at times finding the right drivers but NOTHING that comes remotely close to this! This saga was right off the charts and certainly one for the ages.
It was the Martian Curse, but I answered it and I beat it against all odds and I now have a laptop that behaves as I wanted in the first place.
I am running Windows 7 and the entire system disk is encrypted with TrueCrypt. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard can go fuck themselves, in fact Microsoft have committed the unforgivable and they must DIE as a consequence.
As for the perpetrators of the Martian Curse who have so foolishly revealed themselves in this affair. The conscious manipulation of events in Shoka other than one's own is a crime against the fabric of the Infinite Dimensions. It has its origins outside reality and reality must be broken for such interference to be possible. The penalty is correspondingly beyond reality. The agony of the perpetrators will be out of all proportion to what I have suffered and they didn't even win!4
With all that illegal power they didn't even win.
How stupid must they feel?
Mr Robot by Same Esmail