Category: Geek Alert!


Blogging The Fediverse

I thought I’d test out linking this here old blog to the Fediverse so people can follow it from Mastodon or any of the other Fediverse nodes! Now I’ll be shocked if anyone actually reads this though.


Cover Songs

Mysteries of Heath, #127:
I cannot stand doing a cover song and not doing it “right.” Now this is a complex and possibly volatile subject among musicians so let me be clear that I do not think that my personal preference is “right” and other opinions are wrong. The mystery here is really why it bothers me SO MUCH. Like it actually sucks a lot of the enjoyment out of a song for me. It’s painful.

I LOVE getting the details right. It’s fun. Will most listeners even notice? No. Hell, most listeners are content with half-assed, butchered, mediocre covers, but it matters to me. Now I’m not talking about purposefully doing your own spin on things. I’ve released many covers, some of which were painstaking recreations which are fun and educational in their own way, and some were very different takes, such as my all guitar versions of “Eleanor Rigby,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” or the theme from “Downton Abbey.” Or my rock version of “Kiss The Girl” from “The Little Mermaid.”

The most egregious version of the “incorrect cover” to me is the “lazy” cover. People just can’t be bothered to put the work in to getting it right, so they get “close enough.” Luckily, this doesn’t apply very often to the awesome folks I get to play with. There’s lots of other reasons it happens, but it almost always really bothers me. Every time I play an altered version it’s like a little stone in my shoe.

Now of course, this often works in my favor when people are impressed with how prepared I was, or how accurately I got some cool details right, but it can also be a PITA both to me and those around me. I usually try very hard to be diplomatic and polite and bring it up in a way such as “So, I just wanted to check if this was an oversight, or a purposeful deviation…” I try my best to hopefully be easy and fun to work with and to feel out the tenor of every individual situation and be a collaborative team player. And believe me, I very much WISH that it didn’t bother me as much as it does, because that’s not fun for me. But it does. And I guess for better or worse, it’s part of what makes me who I am as an individual.


The Perfect Earbuds! Bose SoundSport WIRED.

I’ve finally (re)found my perfect general use PC earbuds!

You probably know that I love sharing things that I love. I just got a set of Bose Soundsport Wired earbuds off ebay for $45. Let me explain why they’re my favorites.

When I’m at my computer and need to be quiet or just need to hear more detail, I like to use earbuds. I don’t like over the head headphones as they don’t play well with glasses and they’re big and bulky and give you headphone hair.

I don’t really like earbuds that insert into your ear with silicone tips.

I don’t need wireless at my computer as I already have way too many things to worry about charging and when I’m just sitting in a chair in front of a screen, wired is great.

For critical purposes like mixing and mastering music and such, I use my Slate VSX headphones which are amazing and model studios, clubs, cars, etc. to make sure your mixes translate everywhere.

I do love the form factor of Apple Airpods as they don’t stick IN your ear but still have the benefits of earbuds over headphones, but I generally only use those with my phone because again, I’m on my PC all day and don’t want to worry about charging.

Many years ago, I actually had a set of Bose earbuds with the same form factor as these new ones I just got, but at some point over the years I got something else and sold them, and have since had several more.

Finding these WIRED was tough. Ebay was the only place I could find them as Bose’s current offerings all seem to be wireless. I could not be happier with these. They sit comfortably without sticking IN my ear, I can still hear my surroundings (this might be a minus for some folks), the little flanges keep them in place securely (there’s 3 sizes included), and to me they sound great for general use! I should have never got rid of the first pair I had with this type of bud!


The Fall Of Twitter And The Rise Of Mastodon

Ever since Elon took over Twitter and made and endless series of absolutely boneheaded decisions, people have been scattering to find a new home. Mastodon has seen a huge influx of users that has taxed servers and caused some hiccups as admins upgraded capacities and such. Recently I’ve seen many people trying Hive, but I can’t say I’m a fan of it, while I am a big fan of Mastodon, so I’m going to focus on that.

Firstly, I am a Mastodon newb, not an expert, but I wanted to share my experience and what I do know to help encourage people to come over there because I want all my friends at the same party! There’s plenty of more knowledgeable sources on the web for information about Mastodon and the Fediverse such as

Mastodon can seem intimidating at first, I know. There is no main central website, and that’s the point. No corporate behemoth in charge of everyone’s fate pumping algorithms to get you hooked and feed you what it thinks you want while looking for every way to make a profit. There are thousands of “instances” you can join each run by its own admin and varying in size, scope, and rules. I chose to go ahead and join the largest, and I believe original instance, Now no matter what instance you join, you can follow anyone from any instance, so you don’t have to worry about being on the same instance as your friends. I initially signed up on years ago but then when I went back recently after the big Twitter kerfuffle, I had forgotten where I signed up and so made my new account on You can “migrate” to other instance later (only once every 30 days I believe) which will allow you to bring your following/followers with you but NOT your posts, which is important to note but also probably not as important as you think.

You might want to join an instance with like-minded people, or an instance that has rules of conduct you agree with such as actively prohibiting racism, sexism, and bigotry in general (which seems to be most of them) Instances can also actively block other instances that they know violate such things or spread hate and misinformation or any other criteria that might make an instance something you don’t want to associate with. Individual users can also block users or instances. Also of note is that because of the huge influx from Twitter lately, some instances are not taking new signups right now as they try keep performance scaling with the growing userbase.

I felt a bit at sea in my first few days using Mastodon but quickly found my own way there along with nothing but helpful people. In my fist couple of days on Mastodon I had more nice, enjoyable interactions with total strangers than I think I’ve had in my 15 years on Twitter. There is the “Home” tab which is posts from people you follow in chronological order (again no algorithms pushing specific content at you). The “Explore” tab which is posts that are popular at the moment, the “Local” tab which is chronological posts from people on your instance, and the “Federated” tab which is chronological posts from all the instances on the “Fediverse” that your instance knows about. How does one instance “know about” another? That’s definitely above my level of knowledge but there’s plenty of resources out there like the aforementioned

I personally find myself spending most of my time on Explore, Local, and Federated discovering, meeting, and interacting with new people. Miraculously, I have yet to encounter a single jerk. Now this is the internet, so I’m sure they’re out there but Mastodon’s record with me so far is amazing. It just feels warm welcoming, relaxed, fun, and a great place. I only wish more of my friends were there too!

With people seeking Twitter alternatives, it unfortunately feels like everyone is scattering and splintering. It very much reminds me of when I used to play an MMORPG called “City Of Heroes.” For me that was my “Golden Age” of MMOs in that I was part of a really wonderful “Supergroup” (same as a “clan” or “guild”) of amazing people. After that game started to fade (or people’s interest in it) everyone scattered to totally different games and even you went to the same game as some other friends, you would often have friends on different servers and couldn’t all play together. It was never the same after that. I know I’ll never convince all my wonderful internet friends to come to same place but I wanted to at least do my part in trying to sing the praises of the place where I’ve landed and am really enjoying. I want to do anything I can to help other understand it or give it a try. You can find me here!


Dell Ultrasharp 4K Webcam Review

Years ago, when I was first looking for a good webcam for streaming (and since the pandemic, tons of Zooming, etc.), everything I read led to the Logitech C920 series. I ended up getting the newest one in that line at the time, the C922x. Overall it’s been a fine camera but there were a few quirks that always bothered me. Firstly, as noted all over the internet, it has the very annoying quirk of not saving the camera settings. Streamers are always complaining that they have to tweak their cameras every time they use them. I ended up downloading a third party program called WebCamCfg which is pretty slick and let’s you save/load settings using any .txt editor to alter a .cfg file. However I was still annoyed that I needed this at all. Also there were several Logitech software suites for the camera and none of them did everything. They each did some things. I ended up settling on LogiCapture as my favorite because you can actually use the program itself as your video source (instead of the camera directly) which allows you to tweak settings, zoom, etc., while live with camera, which you usually can’t do with every other camera software suite I’ve used. Usually the camera can’t be in use by another program if you want to adjust it. But even LogiCapture did not give me the ability to turn off auto-exposure which I like to do as I like running everything manually for various reasons.

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Setting Up My Behringer Xtouch With Reaper

EDIT 1/19/2023: I just had to re-set up CSI and the newest version at this time is 2.0 and seems very different, so many of my original instructions aren’t relevant any more, I think. I’m still poking around and setting up the new version with custom layout. The instructions on his Wiki are great and this new version incorporated a lot of the things I had previously customized. I really only messed with the “buttons.zon” file and copied over a lot of the customizations I had made for my personal workflow as I don’t use a lot of the more advanced functions like VCA, or mapping FX parameters or anything like that. I did notice the X-touch had a firmware update I hadn’t installed (1.22) and still I could not get either of my AMD Ryzen machines to recognize the X-touch in update mode. Luckily I had an old Intel laptop around still that recognized it while in update mode and I updated the firmware. Overall CSI 2.0 seems way better right out of the box and eliminated the need for some of the tweaks I had previously made.

I have used Reaper as my Digital Audio Workstation software for about 15 years now and absolutely love it. Recently I decided it might be nice to get a physical control surface to use with it. I initially got a Korg nanoKONTROL to dip my toes in the water. It’s a decent little surface, but I very quickly realized that if I was going to go this route I wanted to go all the way and actually have motorized faders and all the bells and whistles, so at the suggestion of many other users I got a Behringer Xtouch. The Korg unit had taken a lot of setup and tweaking to get it working with Reaper. The Xtouch works right out of the box though with only basic functionality mostly. I thought I’d document my journey for posterity in case I ever need to remember what all I did or in case it can help anyone else.

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Reverse Engineering A VLC Media Player Skin

Summary of this post: inane geeky technobabble about reverse engineering a “skin” for VLC media player. Ye have been warned.

I use VLC as my media player. Like most folks, I wanted a dark skin for it (which they have supposedly been working on a default one for years now). There are lots of user created skins you can use. I have a very specific taste in what I want. Dark, minimalist, compact, I want to see the actual volume percentage, and I want the progress bar to display current time/time remaining. Most of the skins, I couldn’t stand. I found one that almost met all my needs though. Darklounge. The only thing was it had a progress bar that displayed current time/total duration.

I looked into how to edit skins. There is an official skin editor that is ancient (as are most skins). I figured changing that one thing should be pretty simple. I downloaded the editor. Oh, it needs Java Runtime Environment. Ew. This is too much trouble for my tiny change. I find lots of other skins to try. Jump through hoops to download them. None fit the bill. I decide to bite the bullet and try and install JRE just to do this and then I’ll uninstall everything. The skin editor still thinks I don’t have JRE. I read somewhere about setting a JAVA_HOME environment variable in Windows settings. I do that. Hey the editor starts now but I can’t for the life of me get it to even open the skin I want to edit. Again I abandon this project and try every possible other skin to see if any are good enough. Nope.

More research. I discover that the skin files (.vlt files) are actually just .zip archives. I change the extension. Windows can normally open those by default, but not this one for some reason. So I fire up 7zip which CAN read the archive. It’s just a bunch of .png files and one .xml file. So what I need HAS to be in the .xml somewhere. I look up the variable that skins use. I find the “$D” variable for “Duration” and change it to “$L” which is the variable for “Time Remaining.” Save the archive, and BAM! Perfect! I finally have my dark, minimal, compact VLC skin with volume percentage and that displays current time/time remaining. I do a highly satisfied victory butt dance in my chair. I’m practically Neo in The Matrix*

*That is sarcasm as, while this wasn’t necessarily “simple,” it’s fairly elementary amateur tech stuff.


Beez McKeever

Sure most people are probably asleep at 6:40am. Some are even getting up or already up. Me, I’m laying in bed trying to sleep but instead getting an idea for a very silly song about having a crush on the Prop/Costume Diva for #MST3K and singing it into a voice memo in bits and pieces so I’ll remember it the next day. Quite probably the most niche song I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something.

I then also decided to record a full studio version and video for that version in all it’s power pop glory!