G-Force’s OB-E Looks AWESOME

Yesterday, G-Force Software introduced the OB-E synthesizer emulation. It’s another OB-8 emulation – sort of – except it has some features that make it look really compelling.

Oberheim has some absolutely iconic synths. They were originally built around the SEM, the Synthesizer Expander Module, which was a monophonic synth; it was pretty simple, although it had a really good, strong sound. Arturia has an emulation of the SEM, written pretty directly. It’s a really good emulation, but the SEM, by itself, is pretty limited. You’ll struggle to get some of the iconic Oberheim “sounds” out of the SEM, because while it was a core building block of those sounds, it wasn’t how those sounds were built.

Which sounds, you ask? Whew! Let me tell you, limiting myself to the music in my playlist:

  1. The opening “growl” of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” is an Oberheim.
  2. Most of the keyboards in Rush’s “The Camera Eye” – including that opening synth – is the same Oberheim on Tom Sawyer.
  3. Most of Rush’s “Signals” was done on an Oberheim as well. Those lush, beautiful analog synths that swamp the drums and guitars? They’re an Oberheim.
  4. Van Halen’s “Jump” is an Oberheim brass patch.

So if the SEM was only a building block for those sounds, what was the actual machine? Well, it was the next step up: an Oberheim SEM poly synth! This was a beast made with multiple SEM modules chained together to play from a single keyboard, with each SEM being individually set. They’re all similar sounds but they’re not the same sound; they’re directed individually in the stereo field, they have different frequency cutoffs, they have their own effects, they have their own tuning.

It creates a giant sound.

Arturia has a really good OB-8 emulation now, the OB-Xa V, and it’s a really good emulation of the actual OB-8 (and other similar machines, like the OB-X.) I have it; I love it. (It’s one of my go-to synths, actually, along with a few Moog emulators.)

Sonic Projects also has the OP-X Pro-II emulator, also targeting the same line of Oberheims; it’s also a really good emulator, with different strengths and weaknesses compared to the Arturia. (The strengths: it allows you to emphasize some of the filters compared to the slightly-more-tame OB-Xa; that “Tom Sawyer growl” is near-perfect with OP-X Pro-II but the OB-Xa’s version is kinda weak because the resonance can’t be overdriven as much.)

But here’s the thing: neither the OP-X Pro II nor the OB-Xa are Oberheim Polysynth emulators. They don’t give you six (or eight) individually addressable SEMs, although they get close to what the capabilities can be; there’s drift, but there’s not separate signal sources

And that’s where G-Force’s OB-E comes in, because it literally provides you the individually-addressable SEM modules, from the looks of it. I don’t have it, but looking at it, I’m thinking I want it pretty badly.

Transactions in Relationships

I recently offered some advice on relationships to someone, with the preface that I knew it was unasked-for and based on my own experience. I don’t know how good the advice actually is, but it has the ring of value – and given my own interactions, it’s clear how it governs how I relate to people in many spheres, and represents one reason why people relate to me really oddly.

My advice is this: live as if the people around you are transactional, and live as if you yourself are not… but the caveat is that you get to be transactional when the imbalance is too great.


Transactional living is basically like keeping score. I do something nice for you, that’s a transaction in which you get something (the “something nice”) and I am owed … something. Maybe it’s a kind word. Maybe it’s a hug. Maybe it’s a returned favor in the future… it really doesn’t matter. The concept here is simple: value for value. I give to you, you give to me in return.

Books have been written – good ones, and a lot of them – about these topics, both about transactionality itself (Willard Harley has a number of books about this, as an example) and the nature of the transactions themselves (one might be Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages.”)

Harley’s idea is that of a “love bank,” where you have an implicit and vague reservoir that has a measure of your internal gratitude for others. He wrote mostly about romantic relationships, but it applies to anyone – that person you meet on the street has their own reservoir in your head.

At first, your feelings about this random person might be neutral, but maybe you like how the person dresses, or how they hold a child’s hand, or something – and that builds up a positive interaction for you. So you smile and wave at them when they look at you, to reward them in some small, cost-free way, for being valuable to you… somehow.

In personal relationships, it gets a lot more serious: when your significant other makes a dinner you enjoy, or you do the dishes unasked-for, or what-have you. Relationships, romantic and otherwise, are composed of long series’ of interactions, things you do for them and things they do for you. Do nice things, the things they recognize as valuable (thus the “Five Love Languages,” mentioned earlier) and they build up a positive feeling for you, and when they do things you recognize as valuable, you build up a positive feeling for them, and the wheel rolls on.

Do things that hurt them, and you empty the reservoir a bit. Do enough things that hurt them, and their reservoir empties; not only do they stop doing nice things for you, but maybe they resent you and eventually abandon the relationship.

The “things that hurt them” don’t even have to be intentional. The “love languages” play in really well here; the things you think are wonderful and kind might not serve the person you’re interacting with. If they need someone to play tennis with, and yet you’re handing them trinkets for their house, you’re “serving them” but not in a way they need, and in fact they might be looking at the trinkets with the thought that you keep trying to crowd their living space with useless doodads.

This is how most people live their entire lives, as a series of implicit and mostly-accidental transactions with everyone around them, hour after hour.

Often, they don’t realize it… and even when they do, they don’t always understand what they want from others, and they don’t think of how living transactionally places a burden on them to return value for those transactions.

The Advice

Living transactionally is natural; you want to value others so you yourself are valued. That’s very much a part of human nature; you reward good behavior, you punish bad behavior; those feedback loops are part of our psyche as humans.

Yet if you focus on those feedback loops, it can become caustic and harmful. You start to assign meaning to every interaction, and you start keeping score; you start feeling like you’re owed. Taken far enough, this becomes narcissism and entitled behavior, and can become so even if you’re not aware of the transactional interactions.

My advice is to intentionally take the hit. Purposefully say, “Okay, people are transactional: I will try to fill their needs as if I myself am not transactional, because the resentment from their failures costs me more than the failures themselves.”

This is not all the advice, however.

There have to be limits. This is sanity. Live as if those around you are transactional, but as if you are not, until the imbalance is intentional or too great to ignore.

You get to protect yourself at some point.

It’s nice to do the dishes for your friend… but if the friend starts expecting you to do the dishes with nothing in return, you’re not their friend, you’re their unpaid maid. That’s unfair to you. You get to say no. You get to say “do your own dishes,” and if they get upset about it, well, that’s… honestly on them.

You have the right to refuse, because that gives you an out; you get to escape the conditions that build up resentment. And you should, as soon as you recognize them.

Wisdom would suggest bringing it up, of course; you’d mention gently that there’s an imbalance in the relationship, and the other party gets to address the imbalance; if they don’t, well, that’s clear enough; they’re using you and don’t value you, and there’s no reason to abuse yourself.

So that’s my “relationship advice,” and it’s offered from a place of experience; I can look at friends and people I’ve lost over the years and map out how I failed at this advice, and I can point to my own scars as a result.

Love others, and love yourself, and behave accordingly, with as few demands and expectations as you can, but don’t allow that to harm you or anyone else.

Apple Integrations, woo!

I made the switch to the Apple ecosystem a few years ago. It started with a MacBook – a switch I’d been publicly wanting to make for years and years, as an in-joke among my friends and a public joke on TheServerSide.com, and then I got a job where the MacBook was standard gear.

I was thrilled, and while I’ve switched back and forth since then (I used Fedora as my daily driver for a while in the middle there, and even used … Windows for a bit), my path has been clear: OSX is the most comfortable desktop environment for me!

I then got an iPad; it replaced my beloved Surface (which had replaced a Kindle) as a working tablet. Then came the iPhone, and the Apple Watch. I don’t have Airpods, but I would rather have traditional headphones anyway – and there’s no way I’m going to even think about spending the money on the Apple headphones.

(Wireless headphones… nah. I use wired headphones, because when I’m wearing headphones, I’m doing music, and wireless headphones add latency.)

This morning, I needed to figure out a route to an appointment, and so I cranked up the OSX Maps app… found my route (using the same basic interface as I have on my iOS device), and bingo, everything had it.

I feel vaguely like a cyborg, with my devices working with and for me, as opposed to just being passive tools.

And yes, I know, it’s no big deal, really: it’s just effective user experience, something the industry should be good at creating already (and it’s getting better all the time). In the end, it’s just programs working together, with Apple making a specific point out of doing it well because they have a singular ecosystem.

Google does it too, after all, and so does Microsoft; they just have a much wider hardware and software ecosystem to deal with, so it’s a lot harder to make it happen as seamlessly as Apple does.

I just experienced the seamless interaction between my devices this morning, in a positive way, and for some reason it stuck out to me how convenient and awesome it all is, when it’s not thrown in your face all the time.

We live in a wonderful world. Now we just need to figure out how to act wonderfully to each other.

On Impeaching Trump

I’ve been thinking about the impeachment of Donald Trump a lot. I’ve changed my mind about how I feel about progressing a number of times, and I think I’ve come to a conclusion I’m satisfied with.

I don’t think he should be impeached. It’s not a simple decision, nor is it one I find totally satisfying, but I think in that direction lies wisdom – and an alternative that works just as well…

Maybe. If it doesn’t work as well, then impeachment wouldn’t be workable in any event.

Note: I’ve amended this article to factor in information that was new to me. It affects some of the reasoning I used, and invalidates some it. I am not absolutely sure it changes my conclusion, although it does serve to diminish some of the “moral authority” used by the GOP in defense of Trump. See the bottom of the article for the correction.

On January 6, a group of goons attacked the Capitol of the United States. They invaded Congress; six people (I think!) ended up dead. It was as unfocused an attack as much of the violence over the past year has been, without clear goals and with no real hope of success outside of general mayhem (and causing a response to it).

It was violence for the sake of violence. It was inspired and enabled by two primary sources.

One encouraging source for the violence was the lackadaisical response to the riots over the past year, which had many politicians excusing it as “the only valid response to offense” (hint: it wasn’t) or supporting those who were arrested for participating. This was at nearly all levels of government, including members of the current House of Representatives and, for that matter, Vice President Harris, who offered to help arrange succor for those who rioted. Ironically, some of those same Representatives were, um, rather upset at the riots at the Capitol, when they themselves might have been in danger.

The other encouraging source was President Trump himself. By insisting the election that he lost was stolen, and by dropping hints that people weren’t going to take it, he created an environment ripe for his supporters to make a decision to act on his behalf.

It’s conceptually no different than the riots over the past year, of course, but he was the President. He had a responsibility to serve even those who defeated him, and represent their aims. His verbiage was not a direct incitement – at no point that I’m aware of did he actually direct rioters to act – but he leveraged a situation and social environment where such action was implicitly approved, in perception.

On January 7 or thereabouts (I didn’t keep a diary or timeline), I was furious at Trump. I remain furious at him. My mostly-negative feelings about him were fanned into flames of active dislike of his Presidency, and I felt that Representative Pelosi should have written articles of impeachment that morning and walked them over that morning and the Senate should have removed him that afternoon. Mike Pence would become President for two weeks, mostly babysitting a peaceful transition, Trump would be walled away in his crib, yowling all the while, and his role as Commander in Chief would be muted; his followers would have been enraged, but they were likely to be enraged already because he had lost the election.

Why wait, after all? If Trump actually incited insurrection – regardless of how silly it looks strategically – then he’s acting against his own office and role. There’s no question about duty here; his legal challenges to the election were legitimate (albeit silly, and largely thrown out on merit) but once those legal challenges were presented and dismissed, the election was over and it’s time to accept defeat graciously, for the sake of the Union he says he loves. Continuing to grind the same bitter axe diminishes America, and that makes him unfit for office, especially when people take him seriously.

So waiting… that means that either the case against him is actually weaker than it appears… or the Democrats were afraid when they needed courage most.

If the impeachment case is weaker than it appears, then impeachment would be difficult; they’d already tried to impeach Trump once with really weak decision-making (if you’re going to impeach, you do it with the expectation to win, or you don’t proceed; there was no chance, with a GOP-majority Senate, that an impeachment was going to succeed based on a politically-driven interpretation of a transcript) and in this case Trump’s own use of language would defend him.

If the Democrats were afraid, then… golly, we need to have a general recall, not just an impeachment. Remove Trump, sure… but remove the members of Congress, too. They’re already corrupt, given their support for breaking the law over the last year; they already capitulated to the Presidency in various ways. Chuck Schumer actually said that President Biden should use his Emergency Powers to act to work around Congress – and note that Senator Schumer is a member of Congress. That’s an abrogation of duty. Schumer can find common cause with the President all he likes, but abrogation of his duty is … wrong. He shouldn’t be advocating for ignoring the checks and balances our Constitution set in place.

The Democrats in Congress, if they felt they had a case for impeachment, should have had the stones to act. And act quickly. They should have been brave, and chosen fearlessness, and trusted the country to do right, in the end.

If they had an actual strong case for impeachment and held back, then they were wrong. They were false. They betrayed the country just as much as Trump did. That’s just as treasonous, in a different way, as Trump.

The alternative to them being sniveling cowards who don’t deserve their positions is that the case for impeachment was too muddy to be effective. This is more likely honestly. They can still be sniveling cowards, of course, but I still feel the case for impeachment requires vague interpretation of paralipsis, which is not a trivial undertaking to be approached lightly. (See the Kavanaugh hearings, as well as the first Trump impeachment.)

So a few weeks later, with impeachment being stalled, Biden became President in a mostly-peaceful transfer of power. There were sparks, of course; Antifa burned the Democratic Party headquarters in Portland, if memory serves, because they’re like a dog that has no master; when Trump was President, the Democrats were all “aw shucks, boys’ll be boys” and once Biden became President the Democrats became the target, being substantially the same as the Republicans: the party holds power, not the people.

I despise Antifa because they’re stupid (there are few actual fascists around, including Trump, and I find goal-less violence to be absurd and gross and evil) but at least they’re consistent.

Yet the impeachment of Trump continues.


He’s already out of office. His legal standing in the government is not going to change if he is successfully impeached; he’s not a member of the government now.

There are two possible goals. One is shaming him, and the other is preventing him from office in the future.

Shaming him… honestly, I’m not sure this makes any sense. This is Donald Trump we’re talking about here; his sense of shame is not especially well-developed, or else he’d struggle to be, well, Donald Trump. I admire an internal locus of control, having one myself, but Trump’s locus of control is so internalized that he approaches the appearance of sociopathy. The “shame” for Trump was in losing the election; nothing afterward is going to make much of a difference, it’s just piling on and he would use it to further his grievance.

Plus an intent to shame someone feels faintly gross to me, because it feels so personal. I feel like it’s motivated by dislike; I don’t care if someone doesn’t like Trump (I don’t like Trump myself) but attacking someone out of dislike … lacks honor and integrity. It’s the act of a bully… a description that is often used to describe Trump, as well. It’s a return to McCarthyism. We don’t need that. We shouldn’t want that.

Preventing him from seeking office in the future, though… that holds water for me. Trump represents a brand of crazy I don’t want to risk, and I can see the Democrats and the media encouraging another Trump in the future; I don’t think they’ve learned much from 2016 or 2020. (They selected Harris as VP, after all.) I would hope that the GOP would be smarter than to fall for the same trick twice but there’s no guarantee. 

The Democratic trick from 2016, after all: “Let’s give that moron a platform, and give him the illusion of momentum, which turns into real momentum, and he’ll eliminate the good GOP candidates and our terrible candidate will surely win! … wait, our bad candidate lost to their worst candidate?”

Thanks for that, Democrats. Yes, I blame the Republicans. And I blame you, too.

Does preventing Trump from seeking office again really help, though? It’s hard to tell. Trump’s old, remember. In three years, will he want to run again? Will the GOP be so stupid as to vote for him again, when he’s proven that a milquetoast like Biden could beat him in the general election? (This is why he keeps banging the drum of an illegitimate election, to avoid this conclusion; but in courts, when given the chance to make their point about stolen elections, the judges laughed them out of court on merits, regardless of the politics of the judges. This isn’t a good sign for a “stolen election.”)

So my thought is that an impeachment serves little purpose except to muddy the waters for Biden’s early Presidential term. I don’t care for Biden – he’s a milquetoast and I think he’s a puppet for people I do not trust – but I still want his term to be successful, because I’m an American. An impeachment focuses on the target of the impeachment, not the current sitting President; the impeachment is effectively that of a private citizen at this point. (Author’s note: see the end of the article. This last sentence is less relevant than I had thought it was, when the article was written.)

So: cancel the impeachment.

If Trump actually committed crimes for which an impeachment would be justified were he still in office, then classify those crimes as federal crimes and prosecute them as such.

If that wouldn’t meet a legal barrier for the burden of proof, then the impeachment would fail among similar lines; that’s not a trial, that’s a witch hunt. If the accusations would be undeniable, legally, then Trump is convicted, and he’s barred from future office; everyone wins.

No impeachment necessary.

Of course, after I wrote this, news broke that Trump’s legal defense team resigned, because he insisted on a legal strategy that wouldn’t hold water and apparently continues to do so.

Trump is not much of a stable genius for someone who’s such a stable genius. He acts mostly like a childish bully.

At this rate, who can say? Maybe an impeachment would actually work, against all odds and expectations, because Trump’s such a dope.

More changes!

After I’d had this published for most of a day, a discussion with a friend in which I used some of the same logic I presented here turned out to be wrong.

I’m leaving the original content in place, although I’ve marked it, because I’m an honest person and I said what I said, even if it was in error.

Basically, my assertion was that the 45 GOP senators who’d said they’d not vote to impeach Trump had some constitutional grounds, as Trump is a private citizen now. It turns out that this is not true – the Senate has impeached an official who is no longer in office: Secretary of War Belknap, in 1876. The impeachment was not successful, but that’s not relevant. The key is that impeachment after the office has been vacated has been attempted, so precedent exists.

I still think a federal trial is a wiser approach, but I can’t pretend that’s supported by Constitutional history.