Friday, 26 February 2010

S.o.t.D. – Water Drums – Union Jack

I gather this is off a record from a decade and a half ago, but I’ve only discovered it recently. Wonderfully lush, atmospheric track. Almost has a bit of a lullaby feel to it.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

S.o.t.D. – The Way (Secret Ingredients Mix) – Global Communication

These fellas have had many guises over the years, and I always thought it was kinda weird that they didn’t release this under one of those guises, instead of GC. Given that the predominant sound of Global Communications has been some of the most superb ambient music of all time, it’s odd that one of the most superb examples of house music would be released under that name.

Friday, 19 February 2010

S.o.t.D. - The World Still Spins at Night – Copshow

Just discovered this today. I like it. Gronky headphone tunage.

Typeface Design – Amsterdam

My initial forays into type consisted of hacking Letraset, distorting it on photocopiers, playing around with it on stat cameras, then adding to that with tech pens, etc. Then in early 88 I started drawing type on the computer. I was doing fanzines, gig posters, logos, tape covers, etc. and I knew instinctively that I wanted to use typefaces other than the ones I had at my disposal. My choices at the time were very limited, and nothing I had access to accurately conveyed the look I thought would be appropriate for say an experimental electronic combo.

So I started drawing my own typefaces.

Now in those days I had access to a 512K Mac. Not much computing power. After that I got my hands on a Mac with 2MB of RAM and a 20MB hard disc. Still not that much computing power. To facilitate production, the stuff I drew was fairly simplistic. Being able to step and repeat elements made life simpler. I didn’t have any pretenses that I was able to create complex calligraphic scripts, and these early orthogonal typefaces were a good starting point. They gave me something that could give my graphic design a distinctive look.
Amsterdam is a compendium of early experiments. I had about 9 completed geometric typefaces, some incomplete ideas and figured one like this was enough. Took what I liked out of them, and also culled some stuff I had done for logos and headlines. Quite deliberately I went for a look that wasn’t so harmonious. I turned it onto a monocase, added a few missing elements, and created the different weights and variants. This was done in 93.
Named after the city I was born in.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Winter Bridge View

Went for a stroll a few days ago and snapped some pictures atop the McQuesten bridge.
Woodland Cemetery, Carroll’s Point, Burlington Bay, Skyway Bridge way off in the distance, steel plants on the right.
Carroll’s Point, Burlington Bay, steel plants, Hamilton on the right. Watched a man walking across the ice from Carroll’s Point to Bayfront Park. More courage than I have.

Typeface Design – Freddy

Well, maybe this isn’t so much “design” as it is straight production work. Post Contemporary Records had come to me asking me to create a digital version of a typeface called Freddy, a 1960’s era Morgan Press face, which I suspect is itself a version of an art deco era face.

I decided to try Adobe’s Streamline, their auto-trace program. I hadn’t been very impressed with the auto-trace features on FreeHand, but thought I’d give Streamline a shot. 

And it stunk too. The problem with letting a computer algorithm do it is that it places points in really wonky places, and leaves a wobbly, ugly line. I spent so much time cleaning up the lines that I realized I may as well have just traced it myself with the pen tool, getting it perfect the first time. Lesson learned. And auto-trace features still suck all these years later. I can always tell immediately when someone has auto-traced something as the lines are so sloppy. Which can definitely look good in certain instances. But for the stuff that I’ve done and continue to do, I need the lines to be much tighter and precise.

S.o.t.D. – Mindstream (Orbital RMX) – M.B.M.

I thought the original was pretty spectacular, but hearing this remix really did my head in. It still totally rocks my world.

Bibliophilia: Salt – Mark Kurlanski

A book about a seemingly banal subject, but the history of salt is actually really engrossing. Its role in the development of humanity can’t be overlooked. Wars were fought over it, peoples enslaved to mine it, road networks built to transport it, etc. I can see how some might find it a bit boring, but if you’re a history buff or a foodie, you owe it to yourself to read it to gain a new appreciation for a substance as vital as salt.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

S.o.t.D. – Soul Promenade - Omni Trio

I had just moved to the Ottawa Valley, and was trying to familiarize myself with what was on the radio dial. I had already found CBC, but wanted to see what I could pick up in the way of college radio from Ottawa and Kingston.

I came across some D&B. Some Doc Scott, LTJ Bukem, and Photek was played. All right I thought, note down when and where. The announcer came on.
“Well everyone this is it. My last show. I’m done school, and I’m moving back to London.”
Bloody hell! I just came from London. I discover your show in the last fifteen minutes of its existence. Ggrrrr.
“Okay, so I thought long and hard what my last song would be and I decided on this one. A classic tune. The Nookie remix of Soul Promenade by the great Omni Trio. Thanks to everyone for listening to my show. Bye.”
Well, kind of stinks that his show is over, but hey, what a fantastic song to pick as a last song. A classic indeed.

Thomni Belt

In military parlance, the gear that a soldier carries is divided into lines: 1st line, 2nd line, and 3rd line. 1st line refers to stuff that is carried on the body or in the clothing. Essentially survival stuff. 2nd line is webbing or a chest rig. All the mission essential stuff - ammo, grenades, water, communication gear, medical kit. 3rd line is the pack - food, more water, sleeping bag, shelter, cooking gear, extra clothing, etc. Depending on the mission, as much or as little can be carried.

Now, I have no need to haul the accoutrements of war around, but I do see the value of having some of the gear I carry and use, set up in different layers. 

Stuff like water bottles are something that I want to be able to access quickly when I’m on the move, either to drink from or refill. A first aid kit is something that I don’t want to have to rummage through a pack for if I’ve got a profuse bleeder. There are a few other tools that I like being able to have quick to hand. Whether I’m hauling the whole pack, or off on a side trip, these are things I would want with me. I could attach them to the outside of my pack, or to the waistbelt of the pack, but then what happens if I need to or want to ditch the pack for a while and head off with a lighter load to explore or go for help or whatever the case may be. Having to detach and attach it to something else and detach and then reattach it all back onto the pack is not really feasible.

I’ve shown one attempt I made at having an easy to integrate and detach “2nd line” set-up with the Podules. For the most part they work, but I still wasn’t entirely satisfied with them. Back to the drawing board.

When I got all my Kifaru stuff, I got an extra Omni belt for use with the now discontinued Tailgunner platform. The TG platform didn’t really work satisfactorily for my needs. But I had an idea for the belt itself. (Clicking on any picture will bring up a larger picture.)
The Omni belt as it was. I removed the Velcro on the back (which was for attaching the belt to the body of a pack – I knew that wasn’t ever going to happen with this, so no sense keeping it) and the Delta straps (since these were for attaching to the sides of a pack, and since this wasn’t going to happen with this set-up, they went too.) 
What I did with it. PALS webbing was sewn across the back and four tabs were placed along the top, for the (Scout or TailGunner) suspenders. 
(Sewn by hand BTW.)
Belt with the suspenders attached.
Works perfectly.
Empty belt mounted on a ZXR.
The vertical attachment points are nothing more complicated than a piece of webbing, male buckle in the centre, folded in half, placed over a PALS loop and held in place by a tri-glide.
In this and the previous picture, you can see how the Thomni belt has been PiggyBacked to the waist belt of the ZXR.
6 quick snaps and it’s off the pack. Or back on the pack.
The Thomni Belt fully loaded. From left to right: HSGI Nalgene pouch, Saw’mups with Prune’mups mounted on it, Dump’mups, Grim–Loc for hanging gloves on, and those 4 items are mounted on a modified PPM pouch, XTL, Emdom B.O.M.B. with Emdom Grobes pouch and TT compass pouch containing an Israeli Dressing, Kifaru LiterPlus and modified Emdom Recon Waist Pack
Top view. From left to right: modified Emdom Recon Waist Pack, Kifaru LiterPlus, Emdom B.O.M.B. with Emdom Grobes pouch and TT compass pouch containing an Israeli Dressing, modified XTL, Saw’mups with Prune’mups mounted on it, Dump’mups, Grim–Loc for hanging gloves on, and those 4 items are mounted on a modified PPM pouch, HSGI Nalgene pouch.
I’ve been using Siamese SlikClips to mount the XTL onto the Thomni Belt. I find they’re lighter and not as obtrusive. Little trickier to mount, but nothing I find that onerous. I could also use SRBs to do so, and if I wanted to be really secure I could mount it using MALICE Clips. When using the EMR or ZXR, I keep the XTL where it belongs, on top of the pack, and only mount it when I need to set off somewhere without the main pack. When using the MolleExpress, I’ll keep the XTL mounted on the belt, since there isn’t really a provision for mounting the XTL on top of it.
When I’m hiking with the main pack on, the Emdom Recon Waist Pack is clipped into SRBs on the main waist belt. 
It gives me quick access to all the stuff I’m constantly reaching for – snacks, insect repellent, sun screen, hand sanitizer, lighter, etc., etc. When switching over to the Thomni Belt, it’s a simple matter to unclip it and clip it into buckles on the belt.

Even with the Thomni Belt on the pack, the water bottles are easy to access. 
Some photos showing the Thomni Belt mounted on the ZXR.
Some more photos of the Thomni Belt mounted on the ZXR, but this time with the XTL on the back of the belt.

While I’ve so far been opting to put the XTL on the back of the belt, I could of course mount any number of pouches on there.
Playing around with some different setups. Thomni Belt mounted on the MolleExpress, with the Map’mups on the back with the Emdom Recon Waist Pack above it.
Thomni Belt on the MolleExpress. It tends to be a bit looser on this pack, simply because the girth of it isn’t that great.
Thomni Belt on the ZXR. (Looks a bit sloppy, because I didn’t bother to fill it with much.)

The Thomni Belt worn, with the XTL on the back. (Like the previous picture, I quickly threw it on to have some photos taken. Maybe I should have taken a sec to make sure it wasn’t so crooked. Oh well. It gets the idea across.)
This one also looks crooked, but mainly it looks that way because of the fact the two bottle pouches sit differently. One of these days I’d like to get another Kifaru LiterPlus, but for now the HSGI Nalgene pouch will do fine.
Even without the shoulder straps it rides quite comfortably. The only “real” weight in it is the two water bottles. Along the sides the weight of them seems fairly manageable. For quick jaunts away from the main pack it’s fine. For all day clambering in rough terrain, I would pop the shoulder straps in.

Another thing I did was to hack the PiggyBack setup. The way it is done (as far as Kifaru does it) is to have a 2" metal tri-glide, that loops into a plastic 2" loop at the front of the belt.. The other end of this has a 2" SRB just like the one on the belt of the item you want to attach to the main pack. There is a long length of 2" webbing in between the two ends, and I personally found it way too long. There is adjustment on the Thomni Belt, plenty actually. I didn’t like that long length of webbing hanging there, so I created something a little less obtrusive and also a bit lighter. I call it the JiggyHack.
There’s no significance to one piece of webbing being grey and one being OD. I just used up some scraps.
So far this has worked very well.

Another change I made was to the vertical Dock’n’Locks. Initially I went with a simple approach of a male buckle, a piece of webbing, folded in half, place over a PALS loop and then held in place with a tri-glide. This was fine at first when I was trying to figure out where things should go. Once I got that pinned down, I opted to go with something more permanent. I noticed that the weight of stuff hanging on them started to work the tri-glide loose.
I’ve only done these on my MolleExpress, but soon I’ll put them on my other Kifaru packs as well.

This system comes pretty close to exactly what I need. I can still get at certain items quite easily, I can easily detach it from the main pack for forays, and it is reasonably light and not too bulky. Compared to the Podules, this detaches and attaches with a minimum of drama. It’s comfortable to wear, I can run and climb and paddle in it, and I have some options as far as mounting stuff on it.