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September « 2008 « Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories
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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Cools Links to Check Out (09/28/2008 edition)

TED

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out as a conference bringing people from different fields together. On their website there are many video recordings of talks and presentations given by innovators in many areas. I find some of these talks and ideas to be very interesting, for example, Sugata Mitra talks about his experiment of bringing computers into parts of India to see if kids can learn English and computers by teaching themselves and how that tells us about how we should spend our education budget, and this talk by Paul Rothemund about DNA.

Scientist Says Horizontal Stripes Don’t Make You Look Fat

There was a research doing about whether horizontal stripes make someone look fat. Yep, there’s a research about anything. Their conclusion was that, contrary to popular belief/myth, horizontal stripes don’t make you look fat. On the other hand, verticle stripes do. When I looked at the picture in that article, I say, yes, I agree with their conclusion.

Children Don’t Learn Well From Mistakes Until Twelve

Study shows that children before twelve doesn’t have that good of cognitive abilities to learn from mistakes. Therefore, eight-year-olds would learn better from positive reinforcements than negative ones.

New Microphone: Blue Snowball

I bought a Blue Snowball last week.

So I was at Mary Robinette Kowal‘s blog listening to the audio fiction she recorded to test out her new microphone. I thought it sounded pretty good. I am not sure if it’s the microphone or it’s her voice, but you know how people buy Air Jordans and thinking they can play better basketball as long as they put on those shoes, or buy Proactiv so they can look like Jessica Simpson? I am no different. Maybe this microphone is exactly what I need to make myself sound better!

All kidding aside, I was already looking into buying a new microphone to replace my cheapo 20-dollar Sony F-V220 that I’ve been using. So if someone recommends one, I’ll look into it. I found mostly pretty good reviews about it, and I like what people said about the functionalities, so I went ahead and ordered one.

A few days later the package arrived at my door (yay, new toy!). I gave it a test-run. Here’s some random crap I made up on the spot and recorded in one take while talking to myself:

http://www.puppetkaos.com/mp3s/mac_bot_park.mp3
[audio:http://www.puppetkaos.com/mp3s/mac_bot_park.mp3]

Of course, I’ve only used this microphone for about half an hour so I can’t say that I know everything about the microphone. But I what I noticed was that the Snowball is better than my old microphone in two things that I used to have to be very careful about. One is the hard P. I used to puff a lot of air when I say my P sounds into a microphone. I’ve been more careful about it to not do it so much, but I still do it every now and then. I don’t have a puff screen so I tend to just wrap the top of the microphone in a thin piece of tissue paper. When I used the Snowball, I noticed that it did a good job of wind resistance. It didn’t pick up much of that. Two, the other thing that I used to have to be very careful with was holding the microphone still. A small change in the way I hold the microphone during the recording could turn into a big noise in my old one, but the Snowball handled that aspect pretty well. Not sure if it’s because I have a stand to hold or because it was designed well that way. But either way, it’s nice to be able to not worry about those things during a recording.

As for the sound quality itself, it’s an improvement. I don’t consider it a huge improvement, but there’s improvement. My old microphone picks up 100-12000 Hz, and the Snowball’s frequency range is 40-18000 Hz, so that’s definitely bigger. The human voice frequency is 300-3000 Hz, though, so that falls within the frequencies of both. The fundamental frequency are 85-155 Hz for males and 165-255 Hz and for females. I haven’t really measure mine so I don’t know where it is. Would be interesting to find out one day, though. The new microphone with higher frequency range will likely pick up more resonance though.

Another thing that’s handy about the microphone was that you can switch between uni-directional and omni-directional easily, which was handy for using it in different situations. The only complain so far was that I couldn’t get it to work right away in Cubase. I need to look into the settings some more. I had a hard time getting things to work in Cubase in general anyway.

And here’s a recording of a song that I heard in elementary school. I believe it was in English but I knew no English back then. If anyone can help me identify the song, it would be awesome. ๐Ÿ˜€

http://www.puppetkaos.com/mp3s/rhythm_dance.mp3
[audio:http://www.puppetkaos.com/mp3s/rhythm_dance.mp3]

How about this? If you can name it, I’ll send you five bucks.

Josh Groban’s TV Theme Song Medley on 60th Emmy

What does Josh Groban’s TV Theme Song Medley on the 60th Emmy Award last night have to do with puppets? Well, Animal from Muppets appeared, sang the Muppets theme song, and then got taken away by… (????) Watch for yourself.

Okay, I’m just pointing that out because that part is puppet-related. But of course, the star was Josh Groban. This performance was quite entertaining to watch, because he was singing all these different genres and who knew, he did great impressions of some of the singers and voiceovers too! Possibly the highlight of last night’s Emmy Awards in my opinion.

Ahoy, Mateys! It’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Ahoy, Mateys! It’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Like last year, I didn’t realize until t’ day of, so it’s too late t’ make a video for it. I dug through me treasures, and shiver me timbers! An old video somewhat relevent!

And here’s a joke from me matey fo’ ye:

“Why do pirates like Celine Dion?”
“Sunken Chest! Yarrrrg…..”

Episode 16 – Insomnia

About damn time for me to release a new episode, eh?

In this episode, Mac and Cheese is having a hard time falling asleep. Bottle Monster suggests sheep-counting as possible remedy. And then… I think it would be more fun to watch the video and find out for yourself instead of having me tell you.

If you can’t see the embedded video,
Click here to watch Insomnia on Youtube.
Or download Quicktime movies here:
m4v format (22MB)
mov format (7MB)

I actually got the idea for this episode when I was sort of dozing off. Also, filming this one made me realized something: it’s probably a good idea to get a small TV to use as a monitor. See, with the bed scenes, I was operating one puppet on each hand. And that can get pretty awkward already… especially when Mac and Cheese was in bed and Bottle Monster was supposed to be on the side. AND I had to twist my back and neck just enough so that I could actually see the camera’s tiny LCD screen. Since I like to find the easy way out, I think I should probably get a monitor so I don’t have to look at that small screen. Heck, it’s easier than becoming a contortionist!

In case you are wondering what’s that book Bottle Monster was reading, it’s Marisa Haedike‘s What Are You Going to Be Today, Olive?

The tracks used are Earnest and Hamster March, both by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

PS. What’s a little odd is, the video and audio are slightly off in the two downloadable files. But when I uploaded the file to Youtube, it seems to be free of that problem. Weird.

Creative Commons License

Previous episodes:
Episode 15: Godfather Nightmares
Episode 14: Tofu
Epiodse 13: Tis the Season to be Charlie

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And you can also find all the episodes on iTunes!

10 Songs that Got Stuck in My Head

Ever had a song stuck in your head?

Last week I talked about The Hairbrush Song and how it was one of the songs that can quickly get stuck in my head. In fact, having a song stuck in my head is actually something that happens to me quite often. So here’s 10 of them. Read it at your own risk… for obvious reasons.

1. O Where Is My Hairbrush? (from Veggie Tales)

This song is simply too awesome. And it gets stuck in my head quickly.

2. Captain Planet Theme Song

Damn, this song is catchy. Did you know that it’s by Phil Collins? Anyway, my sister sent me a link to the end credit video of Captain Planet, which we used to watch (dubbed in Chinese too). And that song quickly got stuck in my head. For a while I sang it to everyone. One day I thought, “Just how long has this song been stuck in my head?” and I thought back to the people I sang it to and the occasions… and realized that it had been more than half a year. That was probably the song that was stuck in my head for the longest time.

3. Never Gonna Give You Up (by Rick Astley)

Again, such a catchy one. And Rick Astley certainly had an interesting way of dancing to it. I also learned what Rickrolling is. It was stuck in my head when I was at a karaoke bar, so that was what I ended up singing.

4. DVNO (by Justice)

My co-worker loves the music of this electronic music band from France called Justice. He plays their music at work all the time so it gets stuck in my head. In addition to DVNO, I also like many of their other tracks such as D.A.N.C.E., The Party, etc.

5. Sadeness (by Enigma)

I guess I dig this kind of music. I first heard this song on the radio, thought it sounded really cool, and asked my friend what it is. It’s definitely not the kind of stuff I hear on the radio every day. I like the video too.

6. Girly Man!!!!!!

Okay, this song is not really called Girly Man but I have no idea what it’s really called. Click on the link above to watch it yourself. I laughed my ass off.

7. ๅนด่ผ•ไธ่ฆ็•™็™ฝ (Do Not Leave the Canvas of Youthfulness Blank)

This is a 1987 pop song from Taiwan and it was possibly the very first pop song that I’ve ever learned. It’s an upbeat song about go do things while you are young instead of wasting time. Looking back… yep, things really have changed a lot. As an additional treat, here’s a 1988 music video from possibly the first boy band in Taiwan. All Taiwanese people in our generation know all their classic songs.

8. ๆ—ฅๆœˆ็ˆญ่ผ (Sun and Moon Shining in the Sky)

This is a track used in fight scenes involving Pili’s main characters Su Huan-Jen (previous blogged about here) and Tan Wu-Yu. I was humming it without realizing it until someone pointed out to me. (The track I’m talking about is the background music in the video starting at around the 1:10 mark.)

9. It Sucks to be Me (from Avenue Q)

This is the song that introduces us to every single character to broadway musical Avenue Q (which is on tour in Australia right now, I believe). I loved the show and I loved the song. I think it’s the kind of song that reminds you that everybody has issues and stop thinking those woe-is-me thoughts.

10. Do the Hussle

And finally… Do the Hussle. I first heard it in an Old Navy commercial and it got stuck in my head. Actually, a lot of Disco songs get stuck in my head because they are all so damn catchy! Speaking of which… where is my disco ball?

What songs get stuck in your head?

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