Of Music And Chess

January 17, 2008

Well, another hiatus. Well, another year. Welcome to 2008. Thanks for stickin’ by.

Those of you who have not played a lot of chess might find it hard to see a natural connection between chess, and music. No matter, I think there is one. Music has the ability to transport your mind to another universe, to a world where other laws and values rule. To a world where you can find peace. Chess, sometimes does the same.

I may have blogged about this before, but when it comes to music I can warmly recommend one specific source: Radio Paradise, is a web-radio station that I cannot help fall in love with. They describe themselves as an “eclectic rock music station”. You may say that you are not “really into rock”. But these guys will play an amazingly broad selection of music. You may hear anything from the Beatles to the Chemical Brothers. If you love David Bowie, Calexico, Jethro Tull, Aimee Mann, Roxy Music, Björk, Beck, REM, Tom Petty, Tori Amos, Goldfrapp, and such, you should check it out. Or if you just like to be musically surprised, to hear a lot of new bands that you never heard of, you should click that link. The cool thing is not only that they play very cool music but if you listen for a couple of hours you begin to notice that they mix it in a really cool way that adds up to more than just the separate songs. Now the really great thing is that it is 100% commercial free. It is all working through voluntary listener support. Try it!

As for chess: a year ago I wrote that my goal for 2007 was to improve my rating by 200 rating points. 200 rating points, is a tall order, approximately you would win 4 out of 5 games against someone 200 points below yourself. So it is a significant improvement. Now, one year later the result is [drum roll please]:

230 rating points. Of course I am happy with that. For this year I hesitate to set a new goal because another 200 rating points is quite unrealistic. Anyway, the interesting thing is that my improvement did not chiefly come from intense study or training. Most of it came from a psychological shift, in my attitude towards the game. I have grown more, confident, careful, less risk prone, and most of all, more patient and persistent.

That might be a good lesson, for all of us, in all areas of life. Trust your decisions, stay patient, and do persist.


Vinyl Goes Digital

December 27, 2006

A group of students, (David Öhlin, Patrik Olsson, Robert Olofsson, Reine Vaerlien and Cécile Ayrault), at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), in Stockholm have created an amazing piece of software: Using an ordinary digital scanner hooked up to a PC, they are able to convert good old vinyl records to music files. So the record never spins… they just analyze the image of it and convert it to music. Simply Amazing.

Here is a short description for the tech savvy: First, as the record does not fit into a normal scanner they need to scan it in four pieces. The four pieces are in very high res (2400 dpi), analyzed, and pieced together into a single image. Then the tracks are “straightened out” by the software. Then, in a final step of analysis the straight tracks are analyzed and then converted to music.

The article below claims that the software was written in C language but my guess is that the guys used C++. Then for the heavy math processing they used the MatLab package.

The software has already, in a side project, been used to recover the soundtrack from some films from 1906. Playing the films in normal equipment would, apparently, have damaged the fragile film stock.

The software is still a school project, and (I would guess) not quite finished. The students plan to release it as shareware. I hope that becomes a reality before the commercial forces descend upon these bright youngsters.

I am sorry I have not found any English texts on this, so here is the Swedish text for the benefit of my millions of Swedish fans.

Finland – 12 points! *

December 6, 2006

OK, on a lighter note: today December 6, is the National Day of Finland. It commemorates Finland’s independence from Russia. So this blog post I dedicate fully to my very dear Finish blog friend NBA.

Behold these majestic yet noble Finish warriors. See these
brave and unflinching fighters for freedom. Watch their proud determination, and see these men splendidly defending right and justice. Take joy in their heroic posture, as they stand proud and tall:


* For non-Europeans:
The blog title is a reference to
Finland’s vigorous victory in this years Eurovision Song Contest. (12 points is the maximum a single jury member can assign.) This first time ever a heavy metal song won the competition, and the first time Finland won it! The awesome rock band Lordi took the title home to metropolitan Rovaniemi (pop: 57.835).