Sunday, April 25, 2010

No, it's their fault...

OK - so I got my modular synth setup (bragging to commence Real Soon Now), as well as a MOTU 828 and Volta. This should allow me to use the eight analog ins and outs as voltage control for the modular - meaning that I have a bunch of virtual modules that save me both space and money for the future. I oughta have eight virtual modules, but right now I have six. How's that?

Well, the MOTU 828 has eight analog ins/outs along with a dedicated main output (for your DAW audio out) and dedicated mic/instrument ins (to connect your gear). This should leave all eight analog ins/outs available for Volta - but in the case of Logic, it does not. Logic has a bone-headed system where it assumes that the first two outputs are going to be your monitoring outputs, and auto-names them as "Stereo Outs". It also routes any tracks assigned to the "Stereo Outs" to the master output - which can go anywhere you like (thanks to the I/O Assignments Preference). It's stupid, because it means that Logic basically prevents the use of the first two analog outputs if you are using other outputs for the mains.

Now, this could all be OK if MOTU allowed you to reorder the inputs and outputs as they are seen by Core Audio. Alas, no such thing. Their setup application (which looks like it was made for OS 9...) doesn't help much, and the interface's outputs are presented to Core Audio in alphabetical order.

So... Apple's Logic is boned because it assumes that audio interface I/O #1 and #2 are the best options for default stereo input and output (true in every case except MOTU). MOTU is boned because they decided that analog 1/2 are the best first option for outputs (despite the fact that they have a dedicated Main output). In Googling this issue, everyone that has talked to either companies gets a finger-point to the other.

Who could make the easier fix? Hell, it doesn't matter. All anyone has to do is spend five minutes:

- Apple: make is so that the Stereo Output label represents the Stereo output value in the Preferences, and leave the "first two" outputs alone.

- MOTU: add an option to the Setup program that allows me to set the Main 1-2 as the first element in the Core Audio output list (like the Mic/Inst input is the first in the input list). Or better yet, just give me a patchbay (like Digi was able to do about 10 years ago).

In either case, I think both sides are bone-headed. But in the end, it should probably be MOTU's fix to be made, since they were willing to sell me Volta (which makes the problem apparent) and the 828 (which is an otherwise outstanding interface). I spent $900 for the pair, and I was thinking that the combo represented 8 modules for $112.50 each - a nice price. Instead, I'm getting 6 modules for $150, which it a bit less enticing and rather underwhelming in quantity.

But in the end it is just the fact that they whole system's workflow is screwed by this problem, and I'd just like it fixed, please.


So, it turns out to be a labeling thing in Logic, and you can work around it - as long as you are willing to ignore the labels things are given. Logic and Volta are not best friends, leading to gems like this (from the Volta manual): "Press the "+" button on its channel strip. This will create an aux track with the first multi output pair from Volta (Volta 3-4) as its input". So the labeling of Volta 3-4 is actually output 1 and 2 in the plugin, causing a lot of the confusion.

Also, there is the "stereo output" thing. In Logic Preferences, you define the "Stereo" outputs - in the case of a MOTU 828 MK3, that is outputs 9 & 10 (the Main Outs). However, during track creation, you have to ignore the "Stereo Outputs" label, which is always assigned to the first two outputs - no matter which ones they are. The answer is to just always assign audio outputs to outputs 9 & 10, go ahead and use the labeled "Stereo Outputs" as analog 1-2, and don't worry about it.

Oh yeah, one more thing. If you are using Volta, just don't ever, ever use the Master volume control. It inexplicably turns the volume down on all subbed outputs, which means that it will turn down the "volume" of Volta (i.e., turn down the output voltages), which will drive you system insane.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dancing with Them What Paid Ya

I got a little ping from Paskie about the newest sequencer from; if you have Reaktor, you need to get it. If you have friends with Reaktor, you need to introduce them to it. It is fabulous, and completely pushes the envelope on sequencing tools.

But I was curious about something. I was sure this would be covered on the (quite great) CreateDigitalMusic site, and I wanted to compare Peter's coverage of this to some of the Max for Live stuff. See, with Max for Live, he always mentions:

- It's just wrong for there to be no Max for Live runtime that allows everyone to run this stuff for free.
- There are "open and free" options (particularly pD) that should be considered for this work by his readers.
- There need to be options, options, options, and he can't wait until something done in Reaper, OpenFrameworks or on his beloved Android phone...

Well, given that it appears that NI in some way sponsors the CDM site, I was curious to see if Peter would have a different tone. And, sure enough, he does. There's a gentle poke (with an apology mainlined in the article) at the company, but anything approaching the mumbling about free, open, options or freakin' Android are all buried deep into the comments, and were only stated after repeated poking by his readers.

Ah, what a hoot...!


When Lovers Turn Evil

Developers for hot platforms tend to become very excited; the leap onto a platform when it is young, create some blasting applet that gets tons of attention, then get waylaid when the platform owner decides that it wants the attention (and money) that comes with said applet. Everyone has heard of the troubles with Apple and iPhone/iPod development - now welcome Facebook as that lover that turns into Satan.

A good CNet article here: link

I had coffee yesterday with a new friend that told me about his experiences creating some compelling content for Facebook a while back. He went from zero to blasting in just a few months, and the results looked spectacular.

Right up until the day that they turned off the spigot.

This just serves as a reminder that depending on a large platform to hand over cash is a fool's gig; as my friend says, what you are really doing is early market testing for them, and the second they are able to see the monetization option, you are dead. So banking on Apple, Facebook, Twitter or even Google (the "Don't Be Evil" moniker notwithstanding) is a very shaky business deal unless you can find a way for the mothership to buy you before they kill you.

The current landscape is just too creepy. I'm gonna go make some music now...


Friday, April 9, 2010

Allie burns up the screen...

My friend Allie is getting all of the friggin' press that Denver has to offer. She's started up a line of jewelry, based on "The Barbie Crotch" (her words, not mine) that has gotten a lot of attention. Her most recent photo shoot, for 303 magazine, was literally "Too Hot For Print", so they ended up making a web-specific display: here.

Probably NSFW (although most of my readers work outside the typical cubicle farm...).

She's also interviewed in the most recent 303 magazine, and has been getting a lot of notice in the fashion world. It's fun to see someone you know catch a small version of the Big Ride; hopefully things keep moving forward for her.

You can see much more of her artwork at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A new PLAY video

PLAY: Using the Xformer MFL device from darwin grosse on Vimeo.

I've been struggling making a video to show how to do chord and key changes with Step Sequencer (not that it is hard, but all of the video I've shot has been daft). So I decided to step away for a day and popped off a little video about using the Xformer Pluggo MFL device. It's something I use a lot, and want people to give it a look.

One thing that you, the more informed viewer, will probably question is when I use the accent setting on steps that are not active. Since I have a bit of a decay on the steps, the point is to add a little bump to the end of the step (as it overlaps the next step). Super-subtle, and possibly impossible to hear in the video, but I seem to be able to "feel" it.

Of course, I could be deluding myself. I've done it before.

Anyway - enjoy!


Mr. Moneybagsblogger

Loving this article by Daniel Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs). I'm one of his biggest fans; I have numerous times recommended his book "Option$", which is not only a great Fake Steve Jobs book, but pretty much nails down the Silicon Valley male persona. In this article, Lyons points out the folly of trying to make a living by blogging (unless your mortgage is for a trailer home). Spot on.

People often ask me why I shuttered the Creative Synth site. This is a good overview of what happened, and I was especially chagrined by my discussions with the manufacturers who work I covered. Over and over again I was told "We don't advertise on the Web, but if we did we would just give the money to Google." This was especially disturbing in cases like Native Instruments, where (at the time) my site was the only one doing any tutorial coverage of Reaktor.

If anyone is curious about whether Google sucks the oxygen out of the room, I'll tell you they do. Google Ad Sense? It's really Google Ad ¢ents, meager as all get-out, and a joke for anyone but the Huffington family.

Like they need the cash...


Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh yeah...

Sterling Dot Star from darwin grosse on Vimeo.

I forgot to post some of my work from last quarter. Here's a screen cap of a generative video bit I did for a Bruce Sterling literature overview - we were supposed to do a mediated artwork based on the collection of novels and non-fiction stuff we read. This is a 8-screen security station emulation with a bunch of media: some collected, some created and some collected-and-modified. It was a blast!

Max/MSP/Jitter, of course.


Friday, April 2, 2010

A Great Big Misunderstanding...

Today, the day before iPad-ness rules the earth, I bought an iPhone. My employer (Cycling '74) offered me the privilege, and I jumped in with both feet. Geek Out!!!

One of the things that I downloaded was the Google iPhone app. It basically lets me do All Things Google, including access to all my GApps-based Cycling information. It also includes some neat additions, like a Voice Search module that lets you speak in the phrase to search.

Now, just a few days ago, I'd done some digging around in Google Maps, and stumbled on a street view of Oconto Falls, WI (population approaching zero) that had a picture of my cousin walking out of a family restaurant. This made me think that Google had become too powerful, Big Brother-ish and scary.

So imagine my delight when I lifted the iPhone to my face, clearly and distinctly said "Darwin Grosse" into the microphone, looked at the screen - and saw that it had successfully found thousands of options for me to "donate clothes" throughout the San Francisco area. Ha ha ha ha ha...