Metal Test

I hastily recorded this song today to try out Addictive Drums, a sampled drum VST instrument. I’m not sure I like the drum sounds yet. Pardon the shoddy guitar playing.


Our Grading System is Broken

Edit: this article has been featured on the front page of Hacker News.

Most would agree: the United States’ education system is broken.  Funding is disproportionate, politics mess everything up, regurgitating is emphasized more than understanding, et cetera.  That said, there are still a lot of teachers who really care about education and do their best.  Sadly, virtually all those teachers use an asinine grading system, which if fixed would improve education even despite all the other, arguably bigger problems.

A more reasonable grading system could be implemented very easily and completely fairly.  Your grade should be the higher of these two scores:

  1. The average of your homework and test scores.  This is the way grades are calculated in every class I’ve ever taken from middle school on.
  2. The average of only your test scores.

This simple change would go a long way to improve education both philosophically and practically.  You the student are given the choice how to learn and master the material.  You need not busy yourself with more homework than is necessary to prepare for the tests, because good test grades equal a good course grade.  Conversely, if you struggle with the material, or you tend to do poorly on tests, you can by all means complete all the assigned homework to offset your lower test grades.  In the latter case, you aren’t affected in any way by the new grading system.  The excuse I’ve heard from some educators is that emphasizing homework prepares students for “busy work” in the workplace.  Yeah, just like breaking my leg would prepare me for the inevitable future injury.  Any job that requires more than a middle school education is going to be more analogous to tests than to homework.  For your job, you will need to know what you’re doing and get it done within a time frame: that is a test.

Also, letter grades must be done away with, or perhaps used only as a shorthand way of expressing a final grade.  Making the tenth of a percent from 89.4 to 89.5 worth immensely more than the 9.4 percent from 80 to 89.4 is idiotic.  By extension, GPA must be done away with. Nearly all university and most high school grades are done on a computer.  Computing the average of decimal percentages is no harder than assigning a score for letter grades and computing the mean of those on a scale of 4.0 (or 5.0, etc.).  Giving the student with nine course grades of 80% and one grade of 90% a higher GPA than the student with ten grades of 89% is, quite inarguably, unfair.

These changes would take minimal effort and cost to implement, would affect no decrease in any one student’s grade, would make grades reflect more accurately a student’s merit, and would give some deserved choice and responsibility to the student.



Thanksgiving Instrumental

Just made a short acoustic instrumental song on this glorious Thanksgiving day.


HTTPS On A Couple Sites

FYI, you can access wikipedia securely at

Also, if you navigate to instead of, your entire session will run securely, although with GMail, there still might be an internal frame that’s running plain old insecure http.

Some Oldies

Here’s a post of several MP3′s I’ve made over the past few years.  Riddled with mistakes, sloppiness, incompletion, and bad mixing, some are still perhaps worth a listen.



Dispar8, it gets good halfway through


Leedzor, one of my first classic Facebook posts

Pianotrick, an even older piece in 3/4

Simple Guitar Rock

Even Longer Piano Jam from even longer ago

The Office Theme, redone

Vintage Rock


Me and James (mostly James) installed my subwoofer and amplifier in my truck yesterday. I am quite pleased with it, kicks very hard at high volumes and sounds very clean at normal volumes. At very high volumes my headlights dim slightly at every bass hit.  I also fixed my third door handle.


An arrangement of three different short piano themes I worked up. Decided to make a video as well.

Embedded Streaming MP3′s

Today I decided to implement Jeroen Wijering’s Flash Media Player, which is provided by my web host Dreamhost.  I’m also using the WordPress plugin WP-FLV, which basically lets me use a short <flv> tag instead of the lengthy code normally required to embed the player.

All of my songs will now be streamable from their respective blog posts, as well as downloadable as before.  The category page for my compositions is now also an easy “playlist” where you can easily listen to all the songs I’ve ever posted.  Here’s a sample embedded streaming MP3:

My Gibson Firebird