Strings for an unusual ukulele

I’d like to find better strings for my sopranino ukulele, which is a bit smaller than the usual soprano ukulele. With the soprano strings currently on it, if I use the most common ukulele tuning (GCEA), the strings are a bit slack and it doesn’t sound good. If I tune it up a step (ADF#B), it sounds good but I have to mentally transpose everything.

I found a luthiers’ formula that gives the relationship among tension, frequency, length, and mass of the string. I ought to be able to achieve a more typical tension at the common frequencies by using slightly bigger strings (more mass).

I spent some time last night on this. Aquila provides data on the tension and diameter of their soprano ukulele strings. From the tension and frequency and my ukulele’s scale length, I could compute the mass of the string; then using the diameter, I could work out the density of their string material. From all that, and the shorter scale length of my sopranino ukulele, I could work out what diameter string I ought to need.

I found data from another string manufacturer, D’Addario, on the weight per unit length of all the strings they sell, which ought to let me work out if some of their strings would work too.

Then I woke up this morning and realized something: strings stretch. So the mass of a given length of string depends on its tension and how much it stretches. And none of this data takes that into account. Drat!

I’m afraid I’m going to have to resort to trial and error, which really bugs me when it seems I should be able to work out the right strings and just go buy them.

Mac OS X Lion vs. my NAS

I’m frustrated.

The newest shiniest version of Mac OS X, called Lion, has been released. I was a bit leery, but from what I’ve heard, I’m ready to give it a try.

But I can’t. My NAS, which I use (among other things) to back up my Macs, is not compatible with Lion. They’re working on fixing that, but the fix is only in beta yet, and I don’t want to trust my backups to beta firmware.

Now I’m grateful that they’re working on Lion compatibility at all for my NAS model. It came out years ago; most companies would have abandoned it long ago. (If you’re curious, it’s a ReadyNAS.)

What I’m wondering is whether it’s time to think about building my own NAS. This support won’t last forever, and this NAS has always seemed underpowered anyway. I have about all the parts I need apart from a current motherboard, and I could run something like FreeNAS on it, or just a Linux server.

On the other hand, one reason I bought a NAS to begin with was that I was tired of being sys admin for so many systems…

Decisions, decisions.

Movie: The Da Vinci Code

I enjoyed watching The Da Vinci Code on Blu-Ray last night. I had read the book when it was a best-seller and was unimpressed. Luckily, Ron Howard is a much better director than Dan Brown is a writer. The Blu-Ray cut was longer than the theatrical release, but included some deleted scenes that added more depth to the characters. And having Audrey Tatou never hurts :-).

Stephen Hunt – The Court of the Air

An enjoyable fantasy/steampunk sort of story. Two likeable young protagonists rarely cross paths as they move from ignorance to implausible power through the book. They get caught and escape again a few too many times, so I eventually started saying “come on, Hunt, just get on with the story”. Hunt is a religious believer in show-don’t-tell, so much so that I still am not sure of everybody’s roles in this story.

Still, as a roller-coaster type ride through Hunt’s world, it was worth reading.


I attended an introduction-to-the-banjo workshop yesterday, just out of curiosity. I learned a few interesting things. First, a bluegrass banjo is amazingly heavy, full of brass and wood. Second, it’s tuned to a G chord – if you strum or pick without touching a fret, you get a G chord; if you bar straight across, you get another major chord. But bluegrass banjo players do not strum, they pick in little patterns with three fingers, which is how they get in so darn many notes.

How do I turn off automatic directory listings in Apache?

By default, if Apache maps a request to a directory name rather than a filename (e.g. /var/htdocs/images) and there’s not an index.html file in the directory, Apache will return an HTML page listing the files in that directory. You might wish to disable this as a security measure.

Directory listings are generated by the mod_autoindex module. To disable all directory listings, you can remove the Loadmodule line for mod_autoindex and any occurrences of configuration directives that mod_autoindex implements (see the mod_autoindex documentation).

If mod_autoindex is loaded, whether a directory listing will be generated for a particular request is configured using the Options directive.

To disable directory listings for a specific directory and its subdirectories, turn off the Indexes option in that directory:

<Directory /var/htdocs/images>
  Options -Indexes

You can disable all directory listings by default:

<Directory />
  Options -Indexes

But note that a more specific <Directory> section can turn indexes back on:

<Directory /var/htdocs/images/foo>
  Options Indexes

so search your configuration files for “Indexes” to verify that directory listings aren’t re-enabled anywhere that you don’t want them.

A .htaccess file in a subdirectory can also turn on directory listings. You can prevent that by configuring AllowOverride at the server level and omitting the Options argument, e.g.:

 AllowOverride AuthConfig FileInfo

Summary: Either remove mod_autoindex completely from the configuration, or use Options and AllowOverride to disable listings in specific directories.