16 April 2008

Obsolescence in Acoustics

Read about this site in today's paper. Got me to thinking about skills in my profession that are now becoming, or have become, obsolete. Among them:
  • Using sound level meters with analog (needle) displays (though Radio Shack still sells one).
  • Using special protractors and level recorder chart strips to determine reverberation time from impulse response recordings.
  • Using a starter's pistol, a large balloon, or two 2x4s to generate the aforementioned impulse responses.
  • Printing drawings on vellum to create bona fide blue blueprints. (I do miss the smell of ammonia around the office...)
  • Changing pens in a pen plotter.
  • Editing reel-to-reel tapes with a razor blade and some Scotch tape.
  • Attaching filter sets to sound level meters to measure octave-band sound levels.
  • Writing acoustical "modeling" and analysis programs in BASIC or Fortran.
  • Amassing hard copies of JASA.
  • Measuring relative humidity with a sling psychrometer.
I'm sure I'll think of more! 8^D

11 April 2008

Local Bookstore Plug - The Book Bank

When I travel - for business or pleasure - I try to find "the local bookstore." I'm not talking about the Borders or B&Ns. Not even the "half price" chains. I'm talking about the little hole-in-the-wall places that have books stacked to the ceiling; boxes of books that in any other store would be tripping hazards; books stacked two or three deep on a shelf.
I'm talking about the bookstores where the proprietors are behind the counter reading Faulkner or Joyce while their 17-year-old tabby sits on a stool in the Biography section.
I'm talking about the bookstores where, when you approach the counter with a rare (but not valuable) paperback copy of Asimov's The Gods Themselves priced at $1.50, the same proprietor compliments you on a fantastic find.
These bookstores have a personality. The smell of old paper. The coziness of 14-inch wide aisles. The low hum of traffic outside the only reminder that you haven't died and gone to book nerd heaven.
My latest find was on a recent trip out east. If you're ever in Alexandria, Virginia, I recommend you look up the Book Bank on King Street (just down the street from the national headquarters of the NSPE). Great selection of titles and wonderful prices. Not to mention the "local bookstore" atmosphere that is becoming increasingly difficult to track down in the Information Age.
Happy reading... 8^D

01 April 2008

Happy April 1

If anyone has any good audio or acoustics related April Fool's Day pranks, let me know!!!