Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter properly setting in...

The temperature is properly getting cold now. It's not too bad at the moment, just a sweater with my jacket is fine there aren't winds yet. I'm sure I'll be having my elastic warm-my-neck thing on shortly. Need sleep, it's been a tiring last few weeks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Got me a pipe organ :3

Never really knew much about pipe organs, except they sound AWESOME during the FF6 boss fights :D After getting the vi and having zero idea what stops were, a quick read over on wiki sorted that out. Enjoy, completed this compo just last night.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Linux: OS for the masses?


I had my audio cut out on my Ubuntu 10.04LTS install - this happens quite frequently and it's annoying. A reboot solves it usually - my attempts to restart the audio server just don't do anything.

Anyways. I seriously wish I could use OSX as my main OS instead of just for my musical endeavours. But there is no way I can tolerate the osx user interface full time. I can get stuff done with gnome way faster, and for most of the stuff I do (surfing, email, raw photo conversion) and more technical bits on the side (houdini, arduino, processing) - linux makes more sense (colour management in linux though. IS ANNOYING). Especially with houdini, since it parallels what I use at work.

But I'm frankly getting tired of maintaining an operating system. That's what I specifically updated to when the LTS came out, because I'm not that kind of person who enjoys tweaking config files. Sure, I did. Like a decade ago, but no longer. Now I'm more interesting in using my computer as a means to get things I want done, done. Figuring out which nvidia driver to use or tweaking my xorg.conf is not something I care to spend time on.

Hence, if I could marry up the underlying system of OSX, with a nice, interface like gnome (I'd settle for KDE, honest.... well... maybe :P ). Googling gnome and osx brought up an interesting blog post.

"What Killed the Linux Desktop"

The title is sensationalism, in my opinion. I know at least 4 people who run various flavours of linux out of work, in addition to myself. But I know down the road a few of us may trod on a more well trodden path; windows or osx. The reasons are laid out exactly in the blog post above.

For me, there are simply no native applications on linux that run at the same level as those found on win/osx. For example, I use VSL as my main sample orchestra, and that does not run natively on linux. Some have told me to try running it virtualized, but I hardly see the point.

First, high end audio libraries are copy protected by either iLok or Elicenser. I really do not want to deal with copy protection designed for Win/OSX on linux. Running the VM server is not only overhead in terms of memory and cpu, but also in terms of time required to set it up, and maintain.

Many anti-apple people will hate it but I will say it. My OSX experience (10.4 to 10.68) has more or less been... "it just works".  OSX in particular has LOADS of issues in terms of usability - in my opinion - and I really dislike the app store - but when it comes to loading up Finale to write a score, and getting it over to Logic and getting it all done. Nary an issue. This is of course, not 100% true for everyone - just see various forums and people having issues with osx.

Gaming! Gaming is at least somewhat possible on OSX. Linux? Good luck... my osx box has less capable gpu and cpu compared to my linux box, but because the same game runs natively on osx but emulated (wine) on linux... guess which one works better?

The bottom line is, I use what works best for me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

ADXL335 + Arduino + Processing: Low Pass Filtering

Further proof that I have no life :D

I had some spare time today and after spending about half a day doing a new compositional piece, I had to switch gears to do other things not music related. Oh wait, this is. :P

So far, the Teensy 2.0 has been great. After following the instructions from their website (copy udev files - whatever that is - and running the Teensyduino installer), the Arduino environment now has added options for the Teensy.

Everything appears to work as per the arduino. There is a teensy loader program that appears when you compile, and it appears to be the glue that installs the code into the μC.

One thing that caught me out was that the Teensy does not have a 3.3v output connector like the Arduino; I'd connected the ADXL335 to the 5V, then several minutes in something at the back of my mind told me.... adxl335... 3.3v.... Thankfully the accelerometer seemed unharmed by it's short dance with over-voltaging. Is voltaging a word?

I am not posting the code for this guy as it's mainly a test bed for my low pass filter tests; the code is basically mush. In any case, the current LPF implemented is the digital low pass filter straight off wikipedia. There are other things I want to try like supersampling, kernel based filtering, croissant eating, tea drinking, stuff like that.

The arduino simply sends CSV with 6 values; 3 values for the filtered and 3 values for the unfiltered. The processing sketch then opens a serial port, uses the java split() method to extract the data and then draws it on the screen.

Well, time for bed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Effects of Piracy on small business owners

This is a sad, true post by the developer behind 9 Volt Audio. To many of us who use sample libraries, it's a very cool piece of software that gives us the sounds for our music. Rarely do we actually create our own samples - few of us actually have the knowledge, much less the capability of playing such instruments - but the fact is it takes ALOT of time, money, experience and effort to create such a product.

And because of this product being pirated, it directly affects the livelihoods of the people who are behind it. Many suggestions have been proposed, like using better copy protection schemes or utilizing dongle based protection.

I personally think that piracy can only be slowed down by these methods; to solve this issue we need to look at the roots of the problem, and piracy exists because there are people who exists who do not want to pay and prefer to get it for "free".

For me, I feel that this is moral/social issue. like people growing up and not taught that piracy is stealing, and it hurts other people? Or even worse, they understand it, but do it anyways. And in this case, it hurts the people behind 9 Volt Audio very, very directly.

I wish I could do more, but I have no idea how short of just spreading the word.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Icebreaker: Apollo

Just back from an evening at the National Science Museum where I had the great pleasure of listening to Brain Eno's "Apollo" live, as performed by Icebreaker.

Ambient music isn't really my thing, and this really gave me an ear opener. Several interesting instruments were also used, like a Pedal Steel Guitar (performed by Brian "BJ" Cole) and one of the wind performers used a custom built pan flute that allowed custom pipe configurations to be assembled.

Definitely an enjoyable night :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jazz Piano :3

One of the pieces I've been working on. I really like it so decided to record it today :3

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Cubes and Spheres

One page from my lunchtime sketchbook practice. Been doing this cloth-wrapped-around-box-sphere thing.

Distant Worlds: Returning Home

If you are a fan of the music of Final Fantasy and have not experienced Distant Worlds yourself, definitely pick up this DVD! Apart from the video disk, there are two separate audio CDs of all the songs performed. The small booklet has small writeups on the two ff composers and the conductor, portraits of the invited soloists (Meng Feng-su is brilliant!), as well as some random art and photos of the event.

This particular recorded performance is from the 2010 concert in Japan. Good mix of songs touching all the years of FF. Dancing mad was included, so nice! This reminds me of the friggin' pipe organ built into the Royal Albert Hall.... and this faint memory that the organist messed up some bits of the music. In the DVD, dancing mad was very beautifully played.

The dvd also had a making off section that was fairly interesting, though what caught my attention most was the discussion between Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu about their composition styles; Nobuo Uematsu indicates he composes a pop tune then fills in the rest, whereas Masashi Hamauzu takes a more structured (classical?) approach. 

I must say I am more biased towards Nobuo Uematsu's compositions, which I feel has more melodic content. Then again, I haven't played the games with music by Masashi Hamauzu, so..... it could simply be just I like stuff that I've been hearing over and over and over again.

Anyways, great DVD, I will enjoy listening to it over and over again :)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Wark wark! Kupo! Distant Worlds 2012

Another year, another lovely evening at the Royal Albert Hall for Distant Worlds, the music of final fantasy. This year I arrived ahead of time hoping to get some pictures of the cosplayers, but only a few were abound, though there was this kid above in her chocobo getup :D Wark wark!

I think this is another great concert. Being the 25th year since the first Final Fantasy game, this year's song lineup featured songs from every single FF game, and there were quite a few I couldn't get into because I didn't play them. Maybe it's time to get a PS2 as they're cheap now... :3
It was a full house all right, all 5000+ seats fully packed. No surprise, since the tickets were bloody sold out within an hour or so. From overhearing the various conversations whilst in line, it seems like a fair amount of fans flew in specially for this concert. Gotta thank the nuclear reactors above lifestream that I happened to work in this city.

Swag this year was thin, got the DVD which I've been meaning to get, as well as this year's T-shirt. For those up in scotland, bring £30 if you want to get the T-Shirt :( Various CDs available but I'm pretty sure I'd already bought all of 'em. Those after plushies, get there early, I saw cactrot and moogle plushies, they went *very* fast.