James O Coplien writes a great deal on testing. Lots of interesting insights, no easy decisions on what to quote. Read it all.
Matthew Colville dives into the assumptions and rules of the original Dungeons & Dragons as he attempts to build a Fighter character in every edition of the game.
The video's about 45 minutes long because we explain a lot of the assumptions of this edition, why Gary Gygax created certain rules, why Dwarves can detect sloping passages, but actually making a dude in OD&D probably takes about 7 minutes. There's just not that much to him!
A great look back at the origins of a hobby.
Digital guitar amplifier simulation has been getting better and better over the years and Apple’s Garage Band is no exception. However while sound-wise these simulations may be getting very close to analog amplifiers, the affordances of an all digital system – particularly on a computer – are still very different.
I still prefer the directness and simplicity of a real amp, but there are situations where simulation is the more practical option. The most obvious is during recording: it is much easier to DI the guitar than set up an amp and mic in a separate room.
The other obvious advantage of the digital domain is the range of amps you can use. Many options that would be both expensive and far too loud to be practical to use real versions of are available. I would love a big tweed amp for instance, but even my 1 watt tube combo is almost too loud for home use.
While amp simulation is easier to record with than a mic and real amp, I've found I do need to do more messing about than I do with a real amp. There are two key facets of the virtual rig that I have found most useful to tweak: amp presence, and mic choice and placement.
Presence is kind of tricky to explain, I found Bjorn Juhl‘s description enlightening:
The output transformer does many things, but basically it’s an interface. … Most often the transformer colours the EQ. The internal feedback network of an amplifiers’ power amp tries to correct these losses. The presence control in an amplifier reduces the amount of feedback in the treble frequencies. Upper frequencies are now limited by the output transformer. The Treble ceiling is now set by the limits of the transformers. During light overload the transformer will compress since its unable to reproduce transients rapidly. This softens sharp edges but as overload is lessened, the transformer continues to compress a while.…
Adjusting the presence of the virtual amp is my first stop to correcting harshness, or overly bright response. In fact I often leave the EQ relatively flat. At the volumes real amps operate at I have found it difficult to really tell exactly how a presence control effects the sound, but at the controlled levels of digital its very clear.
The choice and placement of the virtual microphone is the other useful filter for shaping the tone of the amp. The common choices and placement are all available, and I spent quite a while trying out different things suggested in Premier Guitar’s recent mic placement tutorial video.
Because the microphone and cab have such a big part to play in the tone filtering, I have found that the amp’s EQ section is best used as a fine tuner after everything else is in place.
One area amp modelling seems to be an order of magnitude easier is recording heavily overdriven guitar. Avoids the small sound that is so easy to produce miking an amp.
Garage Band’s skeumorphic amp interfaces obscure a nice feature: the EQ and reverb sections are configurable. The labels above the controls are actually drop down menus that allow you to choose alternatives to the default. Great for taming a splash spring reverb or using a modern EQ stage on an old amp model.
One frustration I have currently is it appears that effects loops, and post amp or microphone effects are limited to what comes with the preset amps in the library. For instance, the Clean Guitar library includes an amp called Dyna-Trem. This amp includes what I believe is a post-distortion stereo envelope following tremello.
The envelope trem appears in the amps summary interface, but is not in the amp head or effects. It appears the only way you can use it is to start from the Dyna-Trem amp in the library. Similarly I have not yet found a way to apply, for example, delay after amp or mic without starting from a library amp with that effect on it.
This seems to be a regression too; earlier versions of Garage Band – with worse amp models, and much worse interfaces in general – did allow you to have greater control over the signal path.
The overdrive, distortion and fuzz stomp boxes seem a bit rubbish. Ironic perhaps that the digital simulation of tube amps is pretty good and simulation of little transistor based circuits is average.
Matt Sweeney interviews Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) about playing guitar. Homme shows some of the tricks and techniques he uses to play, including his ‘own’ scale.
Part of an amazing series of videos.
The Incomparable podcast selflessly rewatches Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones to provide us with catharsis.
…And the finding is that, once social influence is introduced, not only does the inequality-generating “critical mass” or “cascade” happen, but we cannot accurately predict which goods it will happen to.…
Via John Siracusa
Tridiv is a web-based editor for creating 3D shapes in CSS.
As well as being completely crazy, Tridiv is remarkable. The interface is pretty straight forward: orthographic views and a 3d project of the model you are building, simple primitives and some tools for manipulating (WYSIWYG and property editors) them. The amazing part is its all done with CSS and div elements.
I found it straight forward to build a model to replace a small raster image that needed to animate in 3D. The hard part is not building the model, but integrating it into a design and rest of the document.
Derived from photobombing, clownbombing means to respond to any social-media discussion by posting an unsettling photograph of a clown, with no text or caption whatsoever. When someone responds to your clownbomb, the only response should be a different clownbomb. This repeats.
She spent sixteen days clownbombing every Tweet posted by Bill O'Reilly.
…The pilcrow is not just some typographic curiosity, useful only for livening up a coffee-table book on graphic design or pointing the way to a paragraph in a mortgage deed, but a living, breathing character with its roots in the earliest days of punctuation. …
Via Chas Emerick.
I quickly discovered that a good metric for higher-quality fonts was the presence of at least one alternate. The Google Web Fonts directory does not allow that type of filtering, so I built this simple one-off page that allows you to browse multi-variant typefaces.
There certainly is a lot of rubbish in the Google Web Fonts library. Weibe’s simple metric appears to have done a reasonably good job of highlighting some decent fonts.
Via the Changelog.