Sunday, September 22, 2013

A little documentation

(a common image of the devastation in our canyon)

The Weather Channel did a pretty good job with their quickie documentary "Disaster in the Rockies", you can get an idea of things at their link here:

We were so lucky - we are high up in the canyon, so there was no "rush" flash flooding near us. Also, we are on the south side of Boulder County, so things aren't nearly as bad as the northern part. But the canyon road was completely wiped out, and it is going to be a few months before we have heat or hot water (because the gas lines were wiped out with the roads).

Thanks to everyone that reached out during the scary stuff, and I hope that people will give me a pass if my communications continues to be a little sketchy for a while.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SnazzyFZ + Bangbang Audio NYC makes for good video

Dan Snazelle, the creator of the Euro implementation of the ArdCore, did a demo for the guys at Bangbang audio. The results are in these videos:

... and ...

For the record, Andrew and I did the 101 Sequencer sketch, as well as a bunch of other sketches shown toward the end of the first video. I'm starting to think that the name "Darwin" must light up NSFW filters or something, 'cuz nobody ever mentions my involvement.

(In case I've not not waved my hand enough about this, I developed the ArdCore platform - as well as the first 30 sketches for the thing - as part of my Master's Degree from DU. Awesome module, if I do say so myself, and available as an MU module from DIY boards available there too!)


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sound City - the movie

Turned onto this one by my friend Andrew, this is a "real" LA story about the creation and existence of one of the historically significant studios: Sound City. It's a freebie if you are an Amazone Prime member, and it's worth the time to watch it.

One of the things that I like about it is that it shows that it's not the beauty of a place that makes for a great studio - it's the vibe. This has been reiterated by a lot of people a lot of time, but seeing it this clearly - and seeing it last this long - is a good reminder for those of us that think the cover of Mix magazine represents "professional" studios.

It reminded me of the discussion that Mixerman had in his book, where a significant part of his prep work for a session was to create a "creative" environment using rugs, tapestries, lava lamps and other tweaks to help people leave the real world behind and get into a mood to write, record and play the hell out of the work.

If you haven't seen the movie, watch it!!!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Or, rather, not.

I got an email from DirecTV offering a chance to bitch about their service. I relished the opportunity. I click on the link - and any other link that might have let me vent about their increased service fees, overblown "2nd Year" rip-off, and my inability to tweak my monthly charges to remove unused equipment from the system.

Wisely, though, every single link is dead. The spinner spins for a few minutes, giving you hope for a better future, then it stops and provides a blank screen. Dead.

In a way, it's a pretty apt metaphor for DirecTV anyway. So thanks for that.


Monday, August 19, 2013


I got an updated (i.e., production) Push device last week, and I've been humming away with it. It turns out to have sated many of my looper/keyboard-alternative/control-surface needs, and done so in a very elegant way. I'm going to be spending some time in the next few weeks getting my ducks in a row with designing User Mode user interfaces; we'll see how that all works out.

Tarekith, someone that I bump into a fair amount, has written up his experiences with the Push, and they pretty much echo my thoughts. So instead of yapping about it myself, why don't you read his bits?

First Thoughts
Second Thoughts



Monday, August 12, 2013

Podcast Mania

I, like many people, have become obsessed with podcasts as a way to plow through the daily grind. There is something about an audio broadcast that is specific to something I'm interested in - it makes me feel like I've put together "Just-For-Me Radio" without doing music (which I can't have playing while I'm operating machinery...) or listening to a ton of commercials.

One of my favorites is the Marc Maron WTF podcast. Marc is a comedian that interviews other comedians, musicians or other creative people, and he reveals a lot about himself in the process. It's really a great way to get into how people do what they do, and to see semi-popular people as real folk.

The one I listened to today was an interview with Alex Guarnaschelli, a TV cook that has been all over the Food Network sorta-reality shows, but she talked about her experiences in cooking in many of the same terms that media artists tend to use for their history of work. Very interesting, and got me thinking about what I do in a completely different way.

You can check it out here: the link


Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Only Place We Had To Stop

Just back from my annual family vacation - this one with a twist. Went to see Aunt Karen, took the boys fishing and sliding down the old gravel pit hills. Went to see Josh (brother-in-law) and Kate (spouse of same), and had a great time hanging out in a park and watching a band in one of the most beautiful bandshells ever (Harriet Lake in Minneapolis).

But there was only one place that the entire family felt like we had to stop at: Delight Donuts in Lexington Nebraska. My kids believe in the power of the donut, and have declared Delight Donut to be the best donut shop in the nation. These folks have no significant internet presence, and is the most odd of possible shops: A traditional donut shop located in an old Mexican restaurant, run by a wonderful Asian couple. Donuts to die for, and worth staying in Lexington just to wake up to this treat.

A little side-step from my normal posts, but I did want to mention the highlight of the trip!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Song Remains The Same...

... but the case is a little different. I was finding the Livid case a little too small, and the Goike cabinet a bunch too big for travel. I finally ponied up and got the case I originally wanted - a Tiptop Station 252. Full of modules from my friends (Malekko/Wiard, SnazzyFX, 4ms), it has everything I need with very little excess baggage. I'm going to take it on a trip next week to make sure that it survives a little road time; assuming it does, I may come home with an album's worth of material!

But right now I've got to download that "You Need A Budget" app that Andrew told me about...


Monday, July 29, 2013

Try a little harder, please.

So I went to a performance this weekend that featured all sorts of performers and huge projections on several walls. This is a situation where the performers "excite" a video system, and the whole thing because a big mediated jumble. Alas, I came away a little sad, because while it held some interesting options, it was a little, um, lacking in attention to detail.

The days of projecting something on a wall and winning your Media Artist badge are over. Now, there are expectations that need to be met. And it's not just about the content - it's about the details of presentation. For example, if you are going to have multiple projectors, the brightness, contrast and black levels need to be matched across machines. If you are spanning across these projectors, you need to make sure the alignment is impeccable. In fact, impeccability is something that was missing from the whole show, and it left me wishing for more than I saw.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Robert Speaks

Ran across this interview on FB, but these things often go unread. This one shouldn't. I interviewed Robert one time for (presumably) a thesis thingie, but he was kind of hard to interview (especially for me, since I consider him a bit of a friend). But even Robert admits to liking this interview (enough so that he posted it on his own site), and I have to admit it is pretty spot-on. Hopefully you enjoy it too.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

ArdCore Love

There's a very nice thread about the ArdCore modular platform on MuffWiggler. The thread starts with a discussion about why the ArdCore isn't as beloved as the MakeNoise Maths (which doesn't even seem logical to me, but there you go...), but eventually evolves into a discussion about the value prospect of the ArdCore as a creative module.

I love the way that the ArdCore has taken off - mostly thanks to Dan Snazelle's introduction of the device in Eurorack format, and FAC's creation of the drum-based sketch. It started off as a passion-project to be utilized as my Master's Thesis project; it has ended up being seen in a variety of modular systems across the world.

Reading the thread has reinvigorated my desire to pumps out a new sketch or two. I've got this thing in my head to do some physics emulations; let's see how this goes!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Performance Season - almost over!

Incredible summer of performances, but (thankfully, perhaps) it is almost over. One of the highlights was playing at the Currents New Media Festival, where I performed in two pieces: one as visualist for Andrew Pask and Janet Feder, and one as musician/visualist with Andrew Pask. Both were incredible, and the duet with Pask allowed me to introduce my modular foolishness to a new crowd. The response was fantastic, and I appreciate the guiding hands of Mariannah Amster and Frank Ragano for making the Currents festival a magnificent place, and to Paul and Kitty for sharing their home with us douring our visit to Santa Fe. An incredible time, and I met so many incredible people. Thank you all!

(The picture was take by Janet as I was trying to get the lighting right for my area of the stage - and attempting not to fall off said stage...)


Monday, February 18, 2013

Haters Gotta Hate

This little gem showed up in my Facebook stack, and I've just got to blurt a few things out. The organizer of this thing has (in my opinion) jumped the rails a bit, and this is the result.  A few notes:
  • If you are going to go Ableton-negative, don't continue to cop the Ableton name and logo. Lacks class.
  • Starting the message with Bitwig is just meant to incite. Don't worry, Marc, they are watching. But this'll just make 'em write you off.
  • Opinion on the Push is not rapidly declining, because the Push isn't yet in consumer's hands. After it is, the opinion will vary, they will be in widespread use, and all planets will continue to orbit as expected.
  • Live 9 is unready? I haven't heard that one yet, although I know some people would prefer it to have different feature sets. But I'm not sure where this one came from. I've been (secretly) gigging with it for a while, and couldn't be more confident in it.
  • The Livid Base is a cool thing, and is completely different from anything Ableton is likely to do in the next many years. The goals are different, as are the devices.
Yeah, I hear the peanut gallery already: I'm a Ableton shill!  I can't bust out of my own bubble! I'm not open enough! Yada yada.

Breaking News: I'm a hater too. In this case, I'm just hating on the fragging of cheap shots on the way out of town.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sometimes I Make Me Happy!

I finally got around to making my damned Max for Live tuner. Something that I always wished was part of Live, and that I knew I should have made for myself some time ago. Wasn't really hard, but difficult to share because it is pretty heavily tied to the fiddle~ object. Nevertheless, at least (for a moment) I'm pretty pleased with myself.

Really useful when doing live Ableton + modular session (of which I have a few in the upcoming months).

Simple pleasures.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

NAMM downer

Am I getting too crotchety, or is this just a little underwhelming? I'm sorry, but Moog has me a little freaked out; I'm not in love with this, and I still puke in my mouth a little every time I see one of those weird-o Solid Gold Voyagers. Wha' happened?

And Dave Smith with the $3K polysynth.

I think I'll get a few U-he softsynths and pay the mortgage for a while longer. My wife agrees whole-heartedly. Actually, my wife believes that U-he stuff is out of line too, but that's why I have a Paypal account...


Monday, January 14, 2013

Another Christmas Miracle!

Or fail, as the case may be.

Trying to get some sort of interesting science-y gift for my 6 year-old, we tripped upon the Smithsonian's "Prehistoric Sea Monsters" kit. Folks my age will remember the great ol' Sea Monkeys kits of the ancient past; this is the updated version, complete with the Smithsonian Seal of Approval.

What a P.O.S. 2 weeks after Christmas and the failure is complete. Never a single triops was hatched, the cool background image faded and peeled off, it now looks like something that belongs on the Island of Misfit Toys.

If I would have done research ahead of time, I would have found people like this:

The Kar-azy Katholic that Prefers Sea Monkeys

I'm not sure I would have completely paid attention, since the idea of a prehistoric monster for a 1st Grader is pretty compelling - but maybe I wouldn't have been surprised by the result: about $0.10 of plastic with some pond scum floating at the top.

Merrrrrry Christmus!


Friday, January 11, 2013

One way the Arduino Due is flawed...

... is that its name is supremely unhelpful.

Surely you'll think I'm crack-headed for trying to make this point, but bear with me. Naming a product using a common word will work against the interests of your users in almost every case - because we are now in the post-documentation, active-searching world of problem-solving. Here's a real world example:

I recently got two Arduino Due boards (from the Maker's Shed). I've installed the Arduino 1.5.1 software, and attempted to load the Blink sketch from the standard library. If I'm using the Programmer's Port, I will either get a "SAM-BA" error, or the system will cease seeing a device on the serial port. I can successfully load and run Blink using the Native Port, so I know that the software is operational, the cables are good and power is sufficient.

I've tried searching the Interwebs for information that might help me figure out what a "SAM-BA" error is, or why a Due might have problems with a Programmer's Port on OS X. In fact, I've been unsuccessfully in finding a useful search phrase that could help, mostly because the "Due" name is searched the same as the work "due" (as in "this board is due to fail any day now"). Thus, I'm consistently getting way too many results without actually getting any help. Very frustrating.

This rant may sound funny from a guy that helps ship the "Max" product, but at least we were pre-Internet; today, there's no reason to use a common word (even if its origins are something else). Do a quick Google search on your product name before you ship. If it provides an overwhelming number of hyper-common results, you might want to go a different way.

In the meantime, I'm just going to use the damned Native Port and shut up.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Über-module!

When is a module not a module? When it's a DJ mixer with built in effects, looper/sampler and other stuff. By running the mini-modular into this mixer, I can control panning, effects, do a little looping/sampling and generally make a bigger mess of an already messy situation. But it is pretty fun, and it make integration of the MPC-1000 and the PC/Monome-based looper pretty smooth. Fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Certain to be Friendly!

I posted this to FB, but I'll also toss it here - something weird has happened to the "people you may know" portion of Facebook. It used to be filled with musicians, video artists and academics. Now it is filled with young women from eastern European countries, all of whom look like they could use a short term loan (or something) from me.

How did this happen? Is it something I did? Is it something one of my "friends" did? Who the heck knows - everything about FB is a black hole of "We don't talk about that.", and they are obviously getting gamed by something that has infected me. All that really means is that I'm not going to be taking on any more friends anytime soon - which probably isn't that bad of an idea anyway.

If I could only stand Google+...