Emacs? Are you mad?

Because I have a modern M3 Macbook Pro, it is only right that I use an editor that is fast approaching fifty years old.

That makes me sound a bit hipster, so perhaps I should clarify - while I have been aware, broadly, of emacs, for most of my Life In Computers, it has only been since I tried to get a handle on Tidal Cycles that I’ve really started to understand emacs.

I say understand”. Anyone reading this will probably nod sagely when I suggest that this may not represent anything like actual understanding.

Really, the purpose of this post is to try out the markdown mode. S’alright!

June 23, 2024

It’s for the birds

Seabirds, in this case. On Titchwell Marsh, an RSPB Reserve on the North Norfolk coast.

A brief outing to trial the CM4s, and despite the shoestring approach, I am happy with these mics. It wasn’t a proper AB test, but I much prefer them to the Clippys that people are keen on - it is a much richer sound (although the omnis do have their place) but I’m probably approaching it from a live sound/music direction rather than from a sound recordists view.

Heckin’ windy, though. Even the dead cats struggled with the breeze so if I were doing it again then I might be looking at a) a blimp or b) an old fashioned wind break (much to the consternation of the professional twitchers).



June 9, 2024

Inadvertent Dark Ambient

I forgot to note in the last post that the kit list also includes a rather fine contact mic (A JRF C-Series, you should buy one as they’re made by the artist) which today, instead of doing any real work, has resulted in a 3 minute track that could, if you listen gently enough, qualify as an actual dark ambient piece.

The instrument, of course, is a traditional Aga oven, left to go cold.

Behold! I never thought I’d ever boast about being able to mic one of these up…

Cold AgaCold Aga

May 28, 2024

A New Start

Yes, yes. Frequent updates and all that.

As alluded to previously, I have had a bit of an obsession vis a vis field recordings. The kit list has now expanded to include:

  • Zoom F6
  • Zoom H5
  • 1 pair Clippy omni-lavs + stereo bar
  • 1 pair Line Audio CM4 Cardio + (really heavy) stereo bar (with handy markings!)
  • 1 JRF C-Series contact mic

I do need to sort out the mic stand situation, alongside the general lack of cases, but I think we’re there or thereabouts. The next trick, of course, will be to get out and do actual recordings.

Some sample audio I quite like - Squabbling rooks from a nearby rookery, recorded with the CM4s using ORTF spacing. The dripping onto the decking is annoying, but that’s the rain for you. The target audio was about 80m (as the rook flies) from the mics, and were off axis by about 90 degrees, so the quality is excellent. I do like the open sound you get from the ORTF layout, I’m starting to become a big fan.

I have had the OS maps out looking for some suitably distant spaces, but of course anthropogenic noise is always going to be an issue in the UK - you’re never more than a few miles from a road and a big trunk like the A1 (other big trunks are available) is going to dominate the soundscape for miles around. One of the big reasons for putting my hands in my pockets for the LM6s is for the off-axis rejection. The rooks, for example, would have had some real background noise if it were the clippys. I am going to do a side by side comparison at some point just to see how bad it is (or not bad - I remain open!)

May 26, 2024

The best laid plans…

I started this with the best of intentions which rapidly fell by the wayside. Keep a journal, I said. Just blog, I said”, but life just gets in the way so what you’re going to get is a bunch of unordered, unscripted ramblings which occur when I somehow manage to find five minutes for a bit of a brain dump.

Field Recordings

So it turns out that a number of years ago, where number is actually decades, I seriously toyed with the idea of becoming a sound recordist. As you’ll probably gather from the tone of my writing, that was one of the things that simply never happened. Things happen, people get in the way, next thing you know you’re 10 years in to a career that you don’t really want to do and then the sunk cost fallacy takes a firm hold.

However, I have Bought Some Equipment. I have a Zoom H5 and a pair of Clippy EM272Z1 (in a handy field kit) on order, and a deep old dive into the You Tubes.

I blame, with some trepidation, Warren Elllis’ newsletter and the rich diet of ambient and other audio delights that this and his RSS feed steadily drip into my brains, for reinvigorating a quite old idea. I’m probably a bit old now for making this a career, but at least it’s an excuse to take off into the hills with a bunch of kit and a set of post-it notes to make sure I actually hit the record button.

What I actually want, and didn’t know it, is something from Sound Devices because that’s the vision of me I always had - they are, unfortunately, a bit pricey.

Amateur Radio

Because sound isn’t enough, I picked up a Xiegu G90 which, like audio, is an example of quite how far things have developed since I last did anything with it. If I ever have any time, I will be bunging a random length of wire out of the window and trying to persuade a computer to let me do some FT8.

Large Language Models

Apparently a Big Thing. Ollama is a way to run models locally, and Meta have released theirs for free. Turns out that, using Ollamarama you can use an old-school (Irssi) IRC client to talk to it. It’s quite nice, actually. The model is surprisingly positive. I can see why people get attached.


If you’ve been looking for a half-decent CLI mail client since Pine got a bit out of hand, can I strongly recommend aerc, and if you’re looking to host mail somewhere and don’t need instant push to iPhone, then Migadu appears to be an exceptional choice, especially if you’re looking at multiple domains. Very Standards, Much Compliant.

April 28, 2024