Friday, December 28, 2012

The Power66 System

So, I've gone through some refinements on my 5U modular system. Here's a pic:

The main changes, this year, are a reduction in sequencers (since I'm using computer sequencing a lot of times with this guy), and the addition of some Buchla-like modules to the top-right corner. These include a Sputnik WCRS, Dual Waveform Generator, Voltage Controlled Filter and MegaOhm CdS. So, basically, this is a two-voice system, but with whack-a-doodle voicing options. Great fun!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why iConnectMidi?

Hopefully, this picture explains why I'm such a big fan of the iConnectMidi...

Yup - a little $50 portable USB keyboard for my little portable modular. Very fun!

(The connection between the two is the iConnectMidi, set up to flow the data directly from the keyboard, through MIDI, into the Doepfer A-190-3 MIDI interface. Works a charm.)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Nook Simple Touch : The Christmas Disappointment (review)

A pretty wonderful Christmas this year for the family - once we all got over our quick bouts with the flu. Present opening went rapidly, with a relatively late start (the kids let me sleep until 6 am!). All was great, with the main gifts being Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch readers for each of the boys (ages 6, 8 and 12).

Why the Simple Touch? First of all, the price was reasonable - we got them for $59 at the Target Black Friday sale. We'd done our research ahead of time (or so we thought), and found that the Nook franchise had the best selection of early reader books, which is perfect for our 6 and 8 year-olds. It is also focused on reading (not games and apps), so when the kids are on the Nook, it means that they are compelled to read. Sounds perfect!

So first thing in the morning, wrapping paper flying, we start getting things wired up. We started by charging all three Nooks up and registering them with Then we used the on-device browser to find and buy a couple of the reasonably priced kids books we'd identified as winners for the kids. Surprisingly, none of them were showing up on the browser, so I hit the computer, found one of the books, bought it and tried to push it to the Nook.

No can do. I did a little diving, and tried all of the explanations, but to no avail. I dashed off a note to B&N customer service and went on to other things. Later, I decided to do a little more digging - and this is where I found out that we, as conscientious parents, had gotten scammed.

When we were doing our research, we'd seen huge lists of books that were available as Nook Books: The I Can Read series, DK readers, Arnold Lobel and Cynthia Ryland and others. Here's an example of a page for one of these books:

Looks good, no?

It's a Nook Book, "Available on NOOK devices and apps", and should be a great read for my 1st grader. Except it doesn't work on a Nook Simple Touch. Why? Possibly because it has color illustrations, or maybe it has an aspect ratio that doesn't work - or some other possibility. I can buy it, but I just can't put it on the Simple Touch devices that we purchased.

Let's look into why I think of this as a scam. First of all, all the identifiers are that this is a "NOOK Book", so there is no indication of a limitation to the devices. Looking more closely at the availability statement:

We see that it self-identifies as working with NOOK devices. Sounds good, right? My Simple Touch says "NOOK" right on the box, so I should be good, right? It is only when you click on the question mark in this little corner of the display that it reveals the evil truth:

Oh. No NOOK Simple Touch. I searched throughout the site, and found no indication that certain books were limited to certain devices. I also can find no way to search for books that are guaranteed to work on the NOOK Simple Touch, so I can't even prevent myself from seeing the 90% of kids books that are unavailable to me (or, more importantly, to my kids). My 8 year-old can enjoy the Magic Tree House series, so he at least has something (although it is precious little). But the 6 year-old is cut out of almost every book he would want from Barnes & Noble, and the device is going to end up being a doorstop because he won't find any joy in it whatsoever.

I have to admit being a stupid consumer, I guess. Up to this point, we've been Kindle users, and there are no limits to the content that can be used on any Kindle device, whether it is an original Kindle or the latest Super App-Laden Geegaw. I just assumed that this was the case for the Nook, too - and I'm paying for that assumption. I guess all the reviewers that discussed the superiority of the Nook are focused on Tom Clancy novels and never bothered to look into Curious George.

You can guess how this makes me feel about Barnes and Noble, the NOOK, the stupid B&N Membership I've been paying for and all the money I spend on them. My family likes books, likes e-books and likes shopping. But at this point, I'd rather recommend a Bernie Madoff investment opportunity than suggest anyone support them. A huge disappointment on our Christmas morning.

Thanks a pile, NOOK!


Monday, August 20, 2012

The Occasional 'Microsoft Ain't So Bad' Post

Every once in a while, I write a blog post about things that Microsoft is doing right. While people still carry around the opinion that MS holds the Great Borg Crown (which it wrenched from IBM's grip), I think that the company has lost its borg-like way, and now is focused on nailing down some of the things it got right, fixing some of the stuff that it got wrong, and generally doing pretty damned good work.

Perhaps this is all triggered by the Vanity Fair article squawking about Microsoft going down the chute, or maybe it is brought to the fore by the ridiculous Motley Fool video bits that I occasionally get in my email box ("The Tech That Made Bill Gates Poop His Pants!"), but I'm having the same reaction toward Microsoft that I had back when Apple was on the cover of Wired. I think that people are quick to turn on the 'bozo bit' for companys that are in a business ebb, and are certain that they will never be about to produce something good, useful or necessary.

So in the spirit of suggesting that Vanity Fair might want to stick to hosting Clinique ads, let me pop off one of my Top 5 Reasons Why Microsoft Ain't So Bad lists:

5. Skype Is Working Better Than Ever

To be honest with you, I used to hate having Skype turned on with my machines. First of all, it would choke the living hell out of the machines at the time, and would often interfere with web cams, audio signals and all the things I do for a living. Thus, I couldn't keep it connected for long.

Secondly, about every hour I would get a notification that "Your Windows Installation May Be Infected With The Clap!!!!!" or something, which was hilarious because I was often using it on the Mac. I also would get undesired contact from (mostly) women who were willing to offer me unspeakable delight in exchange for my Paypal payment. An interesting prospect - unless I happened to be piping Finding Nemo to my family TV at the time.

Skype is now invisible to me - until such time as I need it. Meetings with people in California, Germany or France all happen flawlessly, and are always in-play because I'm always available of Skype. And I *never* get Skype-spam, despite not having changed any of my privacy settings. A lot of people were hand-wringing when MS bought Skype, but somebody there is minding the store, and they are doing a great job.

4. Almost All Windows Problems Are Now Hardware Issues

At this point, almost all of my pains with Windows machines are problems with the machines, not the operating system. How about we take the person that came up with the offset trackpad into the back forty and shoot him? This was clearly designed by someone that has never sat cross-legged with the laptop in their, um, lap. Either that, or they manufactured some phrase that sounds like RSI is just an overreaction to pain during efficient computer use. Let me guess - some panel of physical efficiency experts came up with this one (since they've all lost their jobs working for manufacturers that wanted robotic worker - these having been replaced by robots).

Or how about the builders that have decided that a 768 pixel vertical screen resolution is workable. Workable for what - playing Minecraft? That, trackpads that sit under your hand while typing, inexplicable arrow and delete key locations and similar horrors are the home of the second-rate hardware designer, but Microsoft seems to do everything in their power to keep you from stumbling on this stuff (as much as possible). But at this point, when I'm frustrated on the Windows platform, it's the hardware - not the OS - that is killing me.

3. SkyDrive is the best of the virtual drives

Why would I say this - especially when I've gone on record as being a big Dropbox users? Simple - it gives me a choice. I can use it as a drag-and-drop file store without having the files duplicated on every laptop, desktop and iThing that I own. But, if I want to dupe it on a device, I can do that too. It's fast for upload (as opposed to S3, where I need to take a nap in between photo uploads), easy to navigate (its interface is a clean and simple file browse - no muss, no fuss) and always available.

My only issue is the max file size, and I'll be able to fix that with a (very) small amount of money. Best cloud stash on the market.

2. Stability Is A Good Thing - Really!

I've come to appreciate the stability of Windows releases. They wait until there is a big update before they make me buy an update. When it comes, they are clear about what I'm getting. They don't sneak in Stupid Stuff, and I'm genearlly pleased by the updates.

Apple, on the other hand, is constantly pissing me off with their updates. Doing an incremental update shouldn't break Cubase on me. I don't want to have to fish around the System Preferences looking for a way to turn off "Pacifier And Diaper Mode". And arbitrary "We no longer support programmatic interface NSWhatever" often means my bleeding edge software goes broken until the next software upgrade.

Windows 7 will run crap I bought and/or made 20 years ago. The current version of OS X will have problems with software I got 20 months ago. That gets really irritating, and actually makes me (and many others) look at our stack of obsolete software boxes, then second-guess the idea of buying software in th future. I think this is behind some of the renewed hardware love, and something that makes me appreciate Window's preference to maintain compatibility to long-lost functionality.

1. OK, I'll admit it: OneNote Rocks!

I've been struggling with note-taking, reminder lists and to-do lists for most of my adult life. I'd like to have it be software-based, and I'd like it to be constantly avail. Spreadsheets handle lists fine, but suck for idea capture. Word processors are generally crap for image stashing, and to-do lists (like Toodle-Do) are just to single-focused.

And don't even talk to me about mind-mapping software. The phrase "mind-mapping" is just a different version of "eye-poking"; I'm pretty sure that these things might map the developers' minds, but they really seem to be oriented to making me change the way my mind works. OneNote, on the other hand, is similar to Max (my hero...) - it really doesn't do anything. Instead, it lets me do what I want to do, however I choose to do it today. If I change my mind, I can reformat things without losing data. It seems willing to poop things out to my iCrap, and interacts usefully with the SkyDrive.

When I first saw OneNote, I wanted to add "Samba" to the end of the name and dismiss it. But once I started using it, I got hooked, and it has replaced most of my Moleskines for most of my note-taking, list management and dream-collecting. Love it!


So there is 5, but I'm sure I could generate a bunch more if I had to. But I've got to get back to work (or, in my case, dancing naked in the living room 'cuz the kids went back to school today...), and want to save some ammo for future entries.

I actually wish that some Apple fans would read this and flame out, but I'm pretty sure that nobody in that camp would actually read this blog. I still generally spend 10 hours a day on the Mac, so I'm not a newbie in either camp, but good is good, and I think Microsoft is not getting enough props for the things they do correctly.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Radio Gig This Evening

One of my favorite performance options is working with Gregory Taylor and Tom Hamer as a three-piece all-improv electro-acoustic group. Everyone spends more time listening than playing, which is always a refreshing way to spend the evening. You'll be able to stream the show live at WORT, or catch an archive after the fact. I'll be rocking the portable cab this evening, and also will be using a modded Korg Poly 800 that I picked up at a yard sale for $50. Should be great, and I hope you'll listen in.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Files/information for MediaLive workshop

Here are some links for stuff used for the MediaLive workshop today:

The Powerpoint
The Danger Shield sub-patch

If you weren't there, I hope you can follow some of it. But it is a pretty cool workshop! Also, Sparkfun is rocking it right now, so people are going to come out of this with Brains Full Of Stuff.

Link to MediaLive:


Monday, July 9, 2012

Visuals Gig Prep for July 13, 2012

Working today and tomorrow, then I'm off for gig-prep for July 13's performance at the MediaLive festival. I'm doing visuals for Janet Feder and Andrew Pask, and just finished up the performance patch last night. The above is a capture from a basic run-through test.

I was struggling with some transitions, and realized I just had things in the wrong order. As soon as I corrected that, it all seemed to come into focus. Now I have to work on the equipment setup, do some run-throughs, and I should be read for the show.

My visuals for this one will mostly be generative, with only a few of the live-camera-to-gloopy-projection bits that I'm typically known for. Nevertheless, it still pretty much has my signature to it...


Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Complete Scam

 I'm not sure if you've seen these yet, but here is a case where Amazon is playing blind to complete scam artists using them for a commerce site. Check out the following link: The analog synthesizer community is hot for anything that they can get their hands on, and their friends/family are also interested in giving them gifts about their passion. But read the description: it's just a bunch of Wikipedia articles printed into book form... ... for which they charge $50! The Kindle market is already loaded full of crap-alikes, but now we are getting B.S. like this - a very blatent ripoff. Amazon needs to figure out that this is exactly what people run away from: the sense that their interests are being used as part of a money-grab. I know they think they are immune to this stuff, but Abebooks, B&N and others are just waiting for them to trip over their big feet. [ddg]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My students at work!

Affect from audrey Seiler on Vimeo.

One of the talented students from my Advanced Visual Programming class was kind enough to post a video of her performance that evening - one where Janet Feder and I performance live guitar for her to provide visualizations. I'm on electric (with massive looper action), and Janet is on acoustic.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cripes! I almost forgot!

About what is important, that is. We (20Objects, LLC) recently released the ArdCore Output Expander, and the company invested in a Q960 sequencer so I could show off what it was capable of accomplishing. Here are a few things:

Whew, that's a lot of video for me. More coming this weekend, though; I'm going to try to finish my envelope tracker, then start playing with the Q962 Sequential Switch for even more fun!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Worst. App. Update. Ever.

For the last two weeks, every listen to the ESPN app (shown here, it was basically just a stream of the ESPN live feed, with the ability to listen to podcasts) was peppered with the "Coming Soon - the New ESPN App". I was really hoping for a few things:
  • Better caching of data, so I wouldn't have so many dropouts when listening.
  • Easier to find podcasts, instead of the Long List Of Stuff.
  • ... and that's about it.
I was happy with what they provided; it was simple, I could "Favorite" the podcasts I really wanted to hear, and I could even listen to the Herd when I wanted to get worked up over something. Today the app update showed up, and I grabbed it while I was sitting in the park while my oldest was in soccer practice.

This is absolutely the Worst Software Update I have ever experienced. Here's what went wrong:

  • The original app cost me some money up front, but there were no additional charges. In this new version, I'm told that I have 14 more days for my free preview. So unwittingly, I just exchanged a pay-once app for a pay-forever app. In 14 days, I'm more likely to pay for the TMZ UpSkirt app then I ever will pay for this crapola. Complete bait and switch.
  • In order to spoon feed you, they have eliminated the simple "Listen to the Feed" option, as well as the "Pick a Favorite Podcast" option. Instead, you have to make a "Channel", then tell it what you are interested in. It decides what shows (or more often, what small portion of a show) you get to select. Don't like what they chose - or more specifically, can't find what you already know you want? Too bad.
  • There is already a bug that someone should have caught 10 second in: you make a "Channel", and it appears on the front screen. But for some reason, each time you listen to your channel, it makes a new channel with the same name, and no differentiation from any other similar channel. Perhaps this is some Super Incredible Amazing Usability Feature brought to us through the wonder of Rocket Surgery style user testing. But I'm just a regular guy that wants to listen to ESPN Radio instead of the screeching of kids in the "play environment", or cat-fighting among the ladies playing tennis in the nearby court. As far as I can tell, I'm out of luck.
What went right? Well, the buffering/caching is much better; I was able to drive all the way up my canyon listen to some Trinity Of Fools from an obscure Chicago-based radio show discuss Waddle's upcoming wedding in the middle of the summer, and how he's going to be all sweaty when they deliver the midnight McDonalds burgers. Really good caching of absolute shit is not really my bag, man.

Everybody's been making money off my listening to the old ESPN Radio app, through the original fee, on-going attention to advertisers and sponsors, and developing a fan relationship with the radio personalities. Now they just pissed me off. I suspect that this will go to one of those stupid class-action lawsuits at some point (because of the pay-once to pay-forever switch), for which I will probably receive a 15-cent coupon for Cold Stone Creamery (while the law firm takes home a few mill).

Gee, I can't wait.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

They understand...

... that I'm an *instructor* at DU, right? Or did that not register in their spam database of addresses?


Saturday, March 17, 2012


Just a quick note about the 3rd Law show going on this weekend. The first review is in, and it's a good one. Check it out at World Dance Reviews!  More anon. [ddg]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

LiveJournal has been taken over by (blank)

Yeah, it's been a long time. Blah blah blah. Sorry, but I've been on DEFCON 5 watch for a long, long time. In the meantime, I thought I'd grace you with a little fun. Thanks to the rat-bastard Tom Ellard's ancient blog posts, I ran across The Last 50 LiveJournal Photos page. Tom says it's not safe for work, but I just found a lot of pictures of Russian eBay crap and some moldy cheese. That could be because it is 9am MST. But whatever.

I'll post up some more useful info shortly.