May the force be with you…in Cologne

As someone working in the IT industry (for quite a while now), it is nice to see how technology can be used in a entertaining and productive way. A friend of mine asked if I was interested to go to a StarWars exhibit in Cologne and as a true Sci-Fi fan, I simply couldn’t refuse 🙂 We had visited a similar event in Brussels quite some years ago and I expected it to be the same setup with props from the movies (the last 3 ones hadn’t been released by then).

Turned out, I was quite mistaken. Each visitor got an audio guide and rubber bracelet and as you entered you had to pick a character and through the exhibition, various choices had to be made (with the bracelet) which would build your unique character. The audio guide reacted to sensors in the floor and walls and would start an audio or video comment when you were in the vicinity. Really nice educative and entertaining setup 🙂

Unfortunately you weren’t allowed to use a flashlight and tripod for your camera but my Nikon D3S handled that quite nicely with a 50mm 1.8 lens.

Toys for boys

Once in while men tend to revisit their old hobbies. Women may validate this as a midlife crisis, I simply categorize it as getting back time lost while pretending to be a grown up 😉 Tomatoes, tomatoes, who cares anyway?

About 25 years back I bought my first (and up till now my only) synthesizer: The Roland D70.

Really nice synthesizer, I still love the sound of it but it had been gathering dust for a while and as I wanted to see how much technology had advanced in the meantime, I checked out what is currently available. As usual, things are not as easy as it seems. At first, I had a preference for either the FA-60 or FA-80 but after some very sound advise from the shop where I bought my D70 (Spanjaard in Alkmaar), I finally decided on a separate keyboard controller/synthesizer combo: The A800 Pro controller and Integra-7.

integra-7_angle_gal A800+Pro_2

In one word: Awesome! 6000 sounds, extra sounds can be loaded into virtual banks, 16 voices and each voice can have each own effect, motion surround, etc…

My current setup is the A800 Pro connect through Midi to the Integra-7 and the Integra-7 hooked up through USB to my Mac (running Logic Pro). I had some initial issues with the A800 Pro not sending data through Midi out but it turned out the device is a bit too intelligent: If you use USB to power it, it expects to send the Midi data through USB as well. In other words: You’ll need to purchase the external power supply which is not included.

The Roland D70 has been completely cleaned and repaired (broken backlight) and is now being used by my niece. I already advised her to be careful with an instrument older than her 😉