Saturday, September 5, 2009

I Was a Teenage Heavy Metal Nerd

The first song I ever programmed a computer to play was Black Sabbath's Iron Man. It was a TI-99/4A, and no big trick, given the reference of musical notes to frequency, the simple sound commands (and even simpler melody). Sometimes when I sit down to a big/daunting/exciting/fun software project I'll start by playing Iron Man on iTunes. Since Apple introduced the genius button, I can build a custom playlist starting with Iron Man and continuing with a pseudo-random selection my favorite old school metal bands.

One summer in college I had an internship at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WV. As a side project I was helping put together a computer readout system for one of NRAO's oldest radio telescopes. To make sure the A/D card was ready to pick up analog signals, I tested it by plugging in a walkman with a Type O Negative CD. That 40' telescope is now part of the National Youth Science Foundation summer program.

Heavy metal nerds, rock on.