Wednesday, January 30, 2013

G K Chesterton on Evolution

I am currently re-reading Orthodoxy by G K Chesterton (available for free on Kindle and in other ebook formats). It contains a number of challenges to extremists of the Atheist or Christian kind including this one:

If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism. If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for the most orthodox; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly, especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside time. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to link to a YouTube video in full screen mode.

Sometimes you want to send a link to a YouTube video, but without the distractions of the rest of the web page. Well, you can do this by making a link that launches the video in full screen mode.

Here is how to do it:

Create a full screen link for a YouTube Video

Look up the video on YouTube and note the web page address which will look something like this:

Now copy the string of characters after after "v=" (in this case "4rx8RGA2QGg") and  put them into an address formatted like this:

In most web browsers and computer set ups this will launch the YouTube video in full screen mode.

Create a full screen auto play link for a YouTube Video

If you want the video to start playing as soon as the link is clicked just add the parameter "&autoplay=1" to the end of the link like this:

Formatting the link to include it in an email

Finally, you can format your link within an email so it has a friendlier looking address. I have a tool which will do this for you which you can find here. It was orignally made to format links for putting in blog comments but it will do this too. This is the sort of link it produces:

Moon River

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What "atheism" is not

Dear fundamentalist Christian friends, please take note.

"Atheism" is not:

  • a word which describes everyone you disagree with.
  • a word which is interchangeable with "science".
  • an adequate descriptor for Adolf Hitler (who strongly believed God had a destiny for the German people).
  • a word used to describe anyone who is an unbeliever in the gospel - not all unbelievers are atheists.
  • a word you can apply to someone so you don't have to deal with them as valid human beings and can write them off.

Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to solve the hiss and white noise problems with an Alesis Multimix USB audio mixer.

I got an Alesis Multimix 4 to allow me to use a Shure SM57 for recording my trumpet playing with Audacity, but on first use there were considerable hiss problems. This was caused by too much gain being present between the mixer and the default USB audio driver in Windows.

Here was how I solved the problem:
  1. Make sure only the channel in use is turned up - keep the others turned right down.
  2. Install the ASIO USB audio driver from this site (it says that it does not support the Alesis USB mixers, but I found that it did, although it took a couple of attempts to install). This driver is a demo version which puts a beep in audio every thirty seconds. It costs 59 euros for the full version - which I ultimately had to pay just to get the mixer working.*
  3. Select the correct USB driver (probably marked something like "USB Line in") in your recording software.
  4. Right click on the speaker icon in the taskbar. Select "Recording Devices" then select the "Recording" tab.   Right click on the USB driver, select "properties" and turn the level down. You should keep the gain in the USB driver turned down as low as possible.Start at 50%.  

To adjust the other levels do as follows:
  1. Set the gain control in the Audacity software to about two thirds up.
  2. Plug in the microphone and bring the "Gain" control on the Alesis mixer up until the light LED marked "clipping" starts flashing.
  3. Turn the "gain" control down just far enough to stop the flashing the flashing. 
  4. Reduce the "level" control till the levels are correct in Audacity or your other recording software.

This should give you a nice clean and hiss free recording. This worked for me and I hope it will work for you too.

Good luck.

*This being due to the way Microsoft changed their USB audio driver to one optimised for use with communication headsets which has a high level of pre-amplification hard wired in with no option to disable it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is BT WiFi hot spot access for their broadband customers really unlimited?

Apparently not. BT restricts access to their Openzone and Fon WiFi network to 10,000 minutes per month (approximately 7 days) with warnings sent out when you reach 8,000. This is in spite of it being advertised as "unlimited". 

Given that they supply an Android app which logs you in automatically it will not take long to get to 10,000 minutes, especially as the app makes it difficult to stop from connecting even when you are at home where you should be using your own wifi.