Monday, December 30, 2013

Game Jam!

Spent the last 2 days working on this game jam. Took me 6-8hrs on the first day to get the gameplay sorted out, then the 2nd day I spent ooooh, 10-12hrs maybe to create and playtest/tweak the 8 different stages. Didn't have time to write music for it. I probably could have, if I didn't go out for lunch, read novels, cat naps etc XD

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The First Noel

Had this tune stuck in my head, so decided to arrange it, and experimented using the sax and tin whistle together. They actually don't sound that good together, so in the end I decided to leave the sax out of the 2nd half of the piece - it was supposed to be playing harmony, which I replaced the sax with a vsl flute playing the harmony instead.

Monday, December 23, 2013

What do Cellular Automata sound like?

That was the question I was asking when I created this above. In all honesty, it does not tell much, it would be better if both axes contributed to the sound generation. And, instead of using samples, actually some sort of synthesizer. Alternative sound schemes would be like sounds played when cells become alive or when they die instead of playing back tones based on location.

Alternative modulation schemes could include taking into account the number of neighbours adjacent, or even a few steps out and use that to modulate say, volume. So many ideas.

Originally, I had planned to have the vertical axis be for the notes, and the horizontal axis for instruments, but I do not want to go there as I want to quickly finish this experiment and move on to my next experiment.

Game is here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


We had snow last night, and waking up this morning it was white all over! Surprisingly it was not _that_ cold and the fresh snow was a delight to walk on. In the evening things were rather warm, and the snow had melted into the usual black slush. Eww.

It's a far cry from the weather we had on Saturday:
Looks almost tropical, doesn't it? That was on Saturday, at -5C though :P

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Distant Worlds: Montreal 2013

This is the 3rd Distant Worlds concert I've attended, and I think the magic of it is wearing off on me. It is still a great experience, with loads of old music but something felt a bit off today. I am pretty sure some pieces were missing some lines, and I felt in some places the rhythm section kinda went off against the rest of the orchestra. The new FF6 Opera arrangement, (above) I felt the pacing was not as good as it could have been. The stretches between the voice actors felt really long between.

I left for home right after, didn't really feel the need to check out the merchandise like other years.

Thinking about it, it's probably the music, really. No Susan Calloway == really sad, and the other pieces aren't as inspiring as the previous two I've attended. Blargh. I think the most memorable was Dancing Mad with the Royal Albert Hall's pipe organ, that was amazing.

On the flip side, it's rather nice to hear an orchestra in the flesh again. I think it's been almost a year since I last hear a live orchestra.  The double bassess doing pizz is just sublime. 6 of them together? Bliss. Thanks to an orchestration course I'm attending at the moment, I'm keeping an ear on how things are orchestrated and am able to appreciate it so much more. The basses together with the tuba is a great sound when heard live.

Unlike the Royal Albert Hall's tiered orchestra layout, this particular orchestra sits on a flat platform, and the choir sadly is nigh impossible to see as they are all seated behind. I really should have checked out what the seating is like and perhaps taken a seat higher up behind. And bring some binoculars to check out who's playing what?

Let's see what happens next year...

Saturday, December 07, 2013


Spent two evenings on this. Learnt a fair bit about vectors and forces.


Tried a new burger place today. This was at The Sparrow. The decor stood out first, not sure of the worlds to describe it, but its rather hmmm "antique" looking. The tables we sat at had these tiny picture frames built into the top of the table. Damn, I really should have just taken a picture of this place.

On weekdays, they only seem to be open on Friday for lunch,  the menu of which consists of some semi-breakfasty food like eggs benedict, and burgers etc for lunch. I ordered the burger, rare, with a side of fries. Pretty good, and I'd probably rate this as my favourite burger thus far in Montreal. The serving size is good, not excessive, and the meat is very tender. Some pickles can be found in the dressing too. Fries came somewhat warm-ish but still tasted pretty good. Not sure what the cream coloured sauce was, but I was enjoying that!

The Sparrow appears to be a cash-only place, lucky as I don't usually bring cash out. Definitely a place to return, if only to try the eggs benedict!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The South Wind

Arranged this piece for one of my music exercises, and the stars and moons are finally aligned enough so that I could record it.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Proper snow in Montreal!

It's finally started snowing in Montreal! It's started last night, and everything was pretty much coated with snow before I went to bed. In the morning, the snow was piled up rather high, but the roads and sidewalks were apparently cleared sometime in the morning.

At the moment it's feeling about the same as winter in London, i.e. slush everywhere. Unlike London where I didn't really buy winter specific shoes - I got by with waterproof walking shoes - the people here (and I!) are prepared for the cold with insulated, waterproof boots and proper jackets.

Today was hovering around the 0C range, but tomorrow promises something down to -14C.... we'll see what tomorrow brings. Mainly, my legs can chilled in the setup I've got now, because I've been reluctant to wear thermals for my legs. Plus, thermals don't help getting splashed by cars.

As such, I really want to get now some insulated waterproof pants. Found a pair of columbias for about CAD119? That should do the trick. If I ever go to another country with winter I am so ready for the cold!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The week in review.

Generally fine, apart from Tuesday. Tuesday is the definition of FREEZING. It was actually above 0C, but the wind was pushing some serious velocities. It felt like I didn't have any pants on. I think tomorrow I'll be going downtown to check out some insulation/windproof pants, and perhaps snag a warmer liner glove.

I have an obsession for gloves here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Had a somewhat angst written post about introversion - how I feel north america is so much more extroverted than the countries I've worked in the past, but you know what? Here's a cat poster I saw on the way to work.

The next few days appear to be steadily growing warm! Heck, I left my apartment today with my polartec(tm) fleece - 5 years old and still holding up! Yay macpac! - and softshell. And it was too warm lol.

The evening time was cooler, and it was perfect down in the city dressed that way. Next week promised to be cold though, brrr!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sonata for Harpsichord and Flute


Winter is coming.

I think today begins the road to a cold, cold winter!!! In the morning, I left the house at a nice cool -2C, and only wore my liner gloves. My fingers were feeling rather cold but you know, it's ok. Upon getting to work... I couldn't feel my finger tips. For a good half hour. Smart, eh?

The puddles today were all frozen solid, and the wind, oh the grasshoppers above, the wind! It wasn't all that cold as my face has already gone numb but it was rather strong. A few fellow (older) pedestrians had difficulty walking against the wind.

This will be an interesting experience... let's see what happens!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A few more winter gear purchases

Had a few things I wanted to pick up from that were not available in their shop along St Denis, so I went down to their big store at Marche Central. It's a quick ride on the 80 bus to the end of the line, and then a short walk to Marche Central.

I bought a few things, such as the Seirus Windpro Xtreme Dome Hat. It's a high tech toque, and I needed one of these as the trapper's hat I wear is not very breathable, and it won't fit very well under my Khuno's hood.

I tried the Seirus hat this evening, and I think I may get another one when this one's in the wash! It's warm, the wind is totally cut, and there are little flaps that cover my ears, and with its low profie fits perfectly under the Khuno's hood.

I also got a few other bits and pieces; wool socks, some liner gloves and a Seirus face mask (will write once I actually use it!)

I am currently using polypropylene liners and they seem to do a swell job, and I got some wool ones (specifically, CTR Adrenaline Heater Gloves) when those are in the wash.

I thought they fit pretty well, but after properly removing them from the packaging, I found that the thumb was somewhat oversized. The reviews on aren't that positive either but we'll see how these go. If these fall apart as suggested by the reviews, I'll probably get some thinsulate liner gloves. I used those in London and for the price they work very very well.

I also saw Goretex waterproof socks, 65 a pop for a pair!

Saturday, November 09, 2013


Finally found a ramen place I have positive thoughts about: Misoya Ramen. They don't seem to do reservations over the phone, but I arrived half an hour before my meetup with friends and the extremely friendly staff assured I would get a table for 4 by then.

I had... probably their signature dish I guess, can't remember the exact name. But look at picture above. Yum. First thing is the soup. Good. The miso egg kicks arse, and there's some potato wedges in there as well. Oh, the centre piece, the cha-shu, tastes pretty damned good as well.

We ordered some starters; gyoza (above) and deep fried battered chicken. Both were excellent, I have no idea how they managed to get such soft chicken!

Definitely a place to visit again.

In other news, IT IS FREEZING! Mainly as I swapped out my polar fleece sweater for a quick dry sweater. It's just not as warm as polar fleece. I guess I need to get another polar fleece mid layer; in london I got by with wool sweaters, but the polar fleece sweater definitely keeps me much warmer.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Rapid Weather Changes

When I left my apartment this morning, it was rather warm, heck I was wondering if I was overdressed, and congratulated myself on leaving my heavier gloves at home.

Lunchtime, I went out for lunch and it was rather chilly, thanks to the loads of wind. But it was ok.

This evening however, I left the office rather late (French lessons), and oh my lobsters above. Even though the temperature was only 3 degrees, the wind was biting like..... aphids eating through infant cabbages. Ok, ok, poor analogy as I've not have experienced that but it was cold. I only had my wind proof gloves which were uber good during lunchtime, but at night, it was just cold >.>

Packing my big gloves from now on.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Yum yum! Laksa in Montreal

To celebrate.... hmmm, my flu vaccination a few days ago, I decided to eat out tonight. Been meaning to try this Indonesian place, Nonya and I must say that they make a really good Laksa! The viscosity was perfect, and my tastebuds were awash in flavour. I really should do nanowrimo agan. But I digress.

It's rather different from the Laksa I get in Singapore - singapore style laksa has got cockles, yellow noodles in it - this is the Indonesian style, I'd guess. A single but uber delectable prawn, and some white noodles at the bottom of the soup.

The satay is also very unique; the sauce is already applied to the satay, and my god it is good. I only saw one choice of meat; chicken, and it is probably the softest satay I've ever had. Ever.

On the whole, the meal didn't feel that satisfying - I tend to take a fair bit of carbs at dinner and I got some instant noodles on the way back  - but by the time I was home, I was really stuffed. It might not look or seem like much, but I tell ya, these two dishes are really filling.

I need to go back another day to try their rendang and gado gado; you might want to book ahead as it was jaaamed packed tonight, two other couples and I who didn't do reservations were sat at the bar. Thankfully, my kindle, who is my date is rather petite and didn't occupy too much space.

Definitely recommended.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Weekend musings.

My laptop died this week >.> Just won't boot up. No post, only a hint of the dvd drive spooling up before shutting down. Forums indicate it's a dead motherboard. Yeee haaa...

So.. I've only got my audio workstation (the macbook) to use. Which is meh, as my laptop has far more horse power for cpu heavy chores. But whatever. I've had it since 2009, and bought it as a refurb as well. It's given me a good run.

In any case, I've moved some of the chores over to the mac, and I actually ran itunes for the first time on a mac on Thursday. I must say, it's not too bad (I bought some CDs and needed to rip them) - but it lacks a feature I like alot - playback by folders. VLC to the rescue; I've been using vlc more or less for music nowadays. Use to be an amarok fan but it takes forever to start up, crashy; no point saying more since my linux box is gone.

Also picked up some really warm mittens (*cough* by a certain brand with "goose" in the name), was rather expensive but after I amortized the cost over the length of winter, and it wasn't too bad. I'm pretty sure I made the right choice as I took my windstopper gloves out today (2-ish deg C), and lo-and-behold, my hands were freezing! Looking forward to using the new gloves tomorrow.

For lunch I tried out this vegan place nearby, Invitation V. A bit pricey, but the service and food were pretty good. Well, the service is top notch; I don't eat at enough vegan places to say how good (or bad) it is :D It was definitely a great enjoyable meal imo. Food + kindle reading never goes wrong ;-)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

5 Guys Burger / Montreal

Burgers are one of my favourite food in London, and I've been trying to hunt down a burger in Montreal that can rival Byrons or Honest Burger in London. So far, no luck. But 5 Guy Burger comes close.

First let's talk fries. I tend to consume a big bunch of fries before digging into the burger, and 5 Guys does not disappoint. These are great fries, but still a ways to go before taking on the Rosemary Fries at Honest Burger. Those Rosemary fries are, to me, the standard of Burger Fries.

I'd say 5 Guys would be my number 2 for fries, with Byron's skin-on fries at number 3.

Burger wise, it is probably the best burger I've had in Montreal. I've tried a few burger places on The Plateau, but really, they still have a ways to go. Meat is fresh and juicy, and the bacon crispy with perfection. The buns are actually pretty damned good, and fresh veggies top it off.

Now food, like cameras, are a very personal thing. You like chilli? Not me....

That said. I still think, the overall burger winner still has to be Honest Burger, in terms of price, service, and drinks.

In terms of patties. There is one burger place that is still at the top of my list. Dirty Burger. Dirty burger has the most amazing patty I've ever had in a burger. It almost melts on your tongue. Sadly, I'm not a big fan of their fries or milkshakes (fries are decent, but pales in comparison to Honest. Milkshakes? The one I had was too watered down.). Their location is also rather out of the way, and seating is usually very tight.

Now in terms of milkshakes :P Byron takes the lead by a big big margin. If you want a great milkshake. Go to Byrons. Byrons do great burgers as well, and some of my friends prefer Byrons to Honest, but it's really a personal choice. Byrons wins out for me in terms of space for large groups of people, excellent service, and oh my goodness, the dessert menu. The aformentioned milkshakes, brownies, banana split and more. Byrons does run on the pricey side though, compared to say Honest where one can get a burger fries and drink for (IIRC) £12.

So, there is no number one burger for me, just the best burger for the occasion ;-)


Last week I got a pair of windproof gloves for winter.... that's one purchase that didn't turn out too well. I guess I need to sell it on ebay or what. Basically, the windproof gloves are great at stopping the breeze... but the gloves themselves get cold too.... so I don't feel the breeze, but my paws still get damned cold since the glove is cold!!!

I have since ditched them for the shooting mittens I got for winter photography, and they perform much better. I will probably get a pair of heavy mittens down the line when winter hits, and this time I'll know what to get!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Arcteryx Khuno

Winter in the UK is a pretty rough time for me, but properly attired, it is not too much of an issue. Now Montreal presents a different situation. Temperatures that can fall way below negative in the deep of the night, and even this morning, the weather report indicated a nice frosty -1C as I left my apartment.

Fearing the worst, I decided to go with a known brand. Arcteryx. Originally, Arcteryx was not even on my list - North Face was my number once choice actually. But I happened to check out the Arcteryx store along St Catherine, and found out that Arcteryx carried a line of winter gear more suited for the more mundane needs of commuters, not base camp ascendees.

Enter: The Khuno. Its price is ouch inducing, but the known brand gives me a big peace of mind. So far, I've been fairly impressed with it.

Last saturday, it was drizzling for most of the day, and the weather report indicated a balmy +2C.

As a winter clothing n00b, I think this piece of weather gear really impressed me. The Khuno totally shed the rain coming down, and what was left simply flew off from just brushing it. Wow.

It was also very warm. With the hood in use, my head and neck were surprisingly warm. And this was with a T shirt and jeans! In fact when I was doing errands during lunch break today, with the winter sun beating down, I had to have the hood down and the front zip partially down.

 The only gripe I have with it is the pockets on the front, they've got some odd flaps I'm guess designed to keep the wind out, but I found it a bit fiddly to get my hands in at times.

I'm hoping all I need when things get really cold would be some fleece and perhaps thermals under that. I'm more worried about my face though.

I can still feel the bite of the wind on my face, and I've been looking at some ways to solve this. First off, of course is a full on balaclava, but I never liked the condensation around the mouth. I've also seen some face masks that cover the cheeks down to the neck, that's probably my first choice. Then with my trappers hat to cover my head (Khuno has some adjustability to allow for hats) I hope it will be enough to survive here!

Will post more throughout the winter!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weather Striping

The temperature has suddenly dropped this week, and I discovered that _something_ was up with my apartment. There were leaks!!!! The corner of the room was massively cold, it seems one of the corners had a massive leak. With temps going below 0 and night, it was not a fun feeling to wake up to!

In addition, I have a sliding door in the living room, good lord that area is unbelievably cold in the morning. I'd already applied some weather striping to the edges last weekend, and helped alot, but something else needed to be done.

For the room, I got some Caulking Cord. If it wasn't for the greyish colour, it felt good enough to chew on. But yeah, using that to fill in the gaps where I could feel the cold coming in is helping immensely. I've usually got the thermostat at 22 degrees, and with that on, it would indicate the coils are still running.

As I sit and write, I've dropped it to 20 degrees, and it actually feels I could go a leeetle bit cooler. Plus, the thermostat indicates it's shut off the heating coils too. Win! Warm + energy efficiency!

As mentioned, I'd already applied some weather striping to seal in the gaps in the sliding doors last weekend, which helped, but there were still leaks... _somewhere_

I got a "Draft Detector", basically some sort of slow burning cord that generates a fine plume of smoke. The detector showed me a rather curious pattern. Air from inside the apartment was being sucked outside through a gap at the top of the door, and cold air was coming in from the base of the door.

Interesting! I got pieces of insulation foam to seal those gaps, hopefully it will be enough, if not I'm going to get some more caulking cord and seal up every single gap there.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Choo choo, I'm on a train.

So I picked up Zelda: Spirit Tracks earlier this week, though it would be good fun over the long weekend. And indeed it does possess a fair bit of fun however the feeling I'm getting now is that its really more or less an endless fetch quest.

The premise of the game is that the rail ways that cover the world, aka spirit tracks have been removed due to the evil-doers. Link, as usual, gets roped in to save the world. You know, standard JRPG fare, young kid no more than oh, 12? Saves the world.

Now Spirit Tracks has a formula that's really grating on me: go into spirit tower, obtain map, go visit a sage, go to the temple, kill the boss, repeat.

So far, I've done this four times, and next I'm supposed to go to some region of fire after I've once again obtained another map in the spirit tower. BLARGH. Fetch quest.

That said, some of the level design in the dungeons are really challenging, which makes them freakin enjoyable. Controls are tight, probably similar to phantom hourglass (which I've not touched in years).

Another rant is the bosses, some are just too damned simple (like the spiked boss, which is the 4th boss). And some are friggin' annoying to fight (3rd boss, master of ice fire). I'm assuming that 10 year olds have much better reflexes for these kinda stuff.

I'm not sure how enjoyable this game would be if it were not of the Zelda franchise; The Legend of Zelda has been building the world for decades, and it is very nice to see familiar faces, enemies and music pop up. If it was a totally new world though, perhaps I'd just stop.

What I really need to do is play the older final fantasy games again. How did though damned games hook me for so many hours as a kid? I can actually put down spirit tracks to do stuff and not get sucked in. Was it because of the story and expansive world to explore? Hmmm.... well thinking back to say FF6 (FF3US), that was definitely a perfect combo of both. Strong characters, massive world with a great story.

Ok getting old, signing off before I show off more of my age.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Infinity Blade Novels, Mont Royal.

Was up at Mont Royal today, video above from the lookout point!

Just finished the two Infinity Blade novels, and wish that they would be proper full length novels of the whole game series, so that I don't need to play the games to figure out the stories. I think the story in game is relatively short anyways, and that unlike say, Zelda, it's not something you can just play n win.

That said, since I do have Infinity Blade II, both novels fill in alot of details in the game. Love it, but argh I do not want to play the game!

Ah well.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

SSD: Pure Gold!!!!

I recently got a ssd to replace the 5.4k hard drive in my laptop and OH MY WOLF it is fast! I knew it would be fast-er, but not this fast! Gonna save lots of time booting up the big applications!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Tablet Designs: some things could be better.

It seems like TD Bank in Canada was having a special deal, giving away Galaxy Tab 3 7.0s for new accounts open. These tablets often show up on craigslist below retail and I grabbed one to see what the hooha is about Samsung products :3

After using it for a little bit, here's my thoughts on the designs of tablets.

First, speakers. Tablets usually have their speakers located at the "end" where the home button/usb connector is located (Ipad/galaxy tab). This kinda suck when playing games or watching videos in landscape mode, because the sound is now coming off from the left or right.

One tablet that does it differently is the Kindle Fire, it has its two speakers located at either end of the longer axis. This works much better when working on landscape mode. Of course, if you are now using the Fire in portrait mode, you get sound... coming off the top and bottom. Trade offs eh?

Next, physical buttons. Not always a good thing. The Galaxy Tab has 3 physical buttons, the home, settings and back button. The home button is a physical press button, but the other two appear to be some sort of touch-sensitive buttons. These buttons are rather easy to trigger when holding the device in landscape mode. Annoying.

The Kindle Fire has its own on-screen button tab which is rather annoying as it's always there. The Android 4.2 devices with on-screen buttons have a dedicated area for the buttons, which is a trade off. I still think the best home button design is on the ipad - it's recessed, very obvious when you press it, and it does not use up screen real estate.

UI wise, one thing I really like about the Galaxy Tab is the upper drag down menu. It immediately gives access to the controls for Wifi, GPS, power saving modes, screen brightness etc. It's something I use frequently, and I like how fast it is to access. Similarly, iOS7's bottom drag up menu has the wifi blutooth etc controls there.

There is something that can be improved for the Galaxy Tab's pull down menu though, is is the graphics! For some reason, when I first used it, it reminds me of the look and feel of the dos based Acrobat Reader back in the 90s - very utilitarian, black on white icons. IMO it clashes with the rest of the UI design.

Now for specifics on the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 (ergh, this sounds like I've become a tech writer. I actually dislike clamouring for the latest tech. It is just so not my thing. Tech gets outdated. I much prefer to spend time developing skills as skills don't get outdated. Mostly.)

The first thing I want to point out is the crappy Auto Brightness. Sometimes it works very well, sometimes it dims the screen way to much. Apart from that....

Music uploaded to the device plays fine, so are videos. You got access to the Samung store and google play. I think for the price it is an excellent device, and there is a microSD expansion slot - not tested - hopefully you can put your music library there.

The DAC seems to be quite powerful, on my Shure SE215, I need to reduce the volume to the minimum to be comfortable; I'm guessing they'll drive higher impedance phones just fine. Quality wise, it's hard to say as I didn't do a compare against my MP3 player.

What else can I say.... uh, it's.... light? Not very cuddly? In anycase, it seems like a perfectly great tablet.

Plants VS Zombies 2. Breaking the flow.

One of the games I purchased on my Kindle Fire was Plants vs Zombies. A thoroughly enjoyable game, I'd replayed it twice, well worth its asking price. It pushes all the right buttons, with the gameplay just right, always making me go "one more stage before bed...."

Bringing on version 2 of the game (I am playing it on iOS), it sports super polished graphics and the fun gameplay from the first game. However, if you decide not to pay for tokens and other items in-game, it gets quite boring.....

In the first game, the stages came one after the another, introducing new enemies, layouts etc to spice things up. In the new game, it's exactly the same, until I got to the end of the Egyptian time period, and to move on, required 15 Stars to open the gate to the next time period. A screen pops up, informing you of how you can purchase those stars.

Thankfully, the game does not hamstring you into stopping here, it allows you to collect stars by re-playing stages, each with some challenges for you to overcome. Win these, and you get a star!

After collecting the 15 stars (which was quite boring, and breaking the flow of the game....), I finally got to the pirate stage. Which I must say, is good fun, with lots of new mechanics. I think I got through the main stages over two evenings, and once again, the gate to the new time period. This time...... 30 stars. BORING!

I am thinking this pay-to-play model works very well for PopCap, since they are using it. Unfortunately, I do not fall into the category of people who care for micro-transactions. I wish there was an option to purchase the full game outright, and not have to deal with this.

I'm still very curious to see what happens after the pirate stages, so I'll just chew through this maybe one or two stars a night.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

New Gmail Layout

Removing the top bar makes it uber clean, yet, it now takes me two clicks to get to drive, G+ etc.

That's a con, in my book.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Otakuthon 2013

_someone_ hasn't yet setup his osx photographic workflow yet, so I'm working off an uncalibrated screen, and have none of my tools available (they're still on my linux drive.... which is in limbo).

But here are the pictures from my short visit to Otakuthon 2013.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Playing with Vuforia!

One of my pals was playing with AR in the browser, so I did a bit of googling and found about Vuforia. It is really well developed, works well with Unity, only needing to import the Vuforia asset package, getting a custom "target" i.e. thing to track created, and BAM! It works.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Sombering Truth

Sticker graffiti on the way home.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Osprey Backpacks

When I was a kid, I remembered buying at least one new bag a year. The el-cheapo stuff we got always tore open from the heavy books we carried to school, or just simply the crappy materials being worn out over time.

The first bag that lasted me a damned good long while, was an Osprey. One of my friends was a mountain climber - maybe that's the wrong word, but she would hike up to the Himalayan Basecamp, practice over at Mount Kinabalu over weekends.

Prior to one of these expeditions, she got an Osprey pack that she didn't need, and offered it to me at a good price - and I took it up.

Fast forward the 13 years+ with that Osprey, it was still working great, until some idiot left it in his London rental before leaving for Montreal >.>

That Osprey pack - I don't know what model it is - has been through loads with me. Sea, Snow, Storm. Holding my lenses and what not. When I got back to Singapore for a break, I did go check out the Osprey bags there, but the prices turned me off, and I decided to go for a daypack off one of them internet resellers. It wasn't particular cheap, nor was it super expensive (SGD30+, iirc). It did the job.

For 3 months. And then the bloody zipper came loose >.>

Get a good pack, it lasts a while.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Marketing thoughts.

You know what good marketing is?

I was at the supermarket, to pick up some shampoo, which happened along the multivitamins aisle.

So, I was like... "hmmm, maybe with vitamins, I can finally figure out how to add 2 plus 1 without a calculator....."

Of course, there were like dozens of choices. Increased Energy. For a healthy prostate. For luscious hair.

Ok, I'm making those up. But the one I chose simply stood out because it has one word.


That makes sense, right? And what's best, beside it was another one marketed, "For ages 50 and up"

So simple!

Straight and to the point, no need for me to faff about.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Quiet Steps

A short piece for string quartet, titled Quiet Steps

Sunday, September 08, 2013

A Short Diversion: Presto

I think it's coming together now! I will still be focusing on string quartets - this has helped immensely from a harmony/counterpoint stand of view for 4 voices. The need to mix a short tune nearly every week has helped greatly with learning my monitors as well! VSL Solo Strings is doing a kickass job here too!

Finally went to 10.8.4

Having stayed with Snow Leopard for the last few years, it was time to make the move. Mainly as I wanted to check out Xcode. To be safe, I cloned my entire drive to an external backup, then ran the ML install.

I was very surprised with the results - I'd expected everything to be broken and slow, but no! Actually, after the first boot up, things were very slow - I'm guessing that's the various caches being rebuilt - but a reboot later, things actually felt snappier....

My main applications on OSX (Logic, Kontakt, VSL, Addictive Drums etc) ran perfectly out of the box. What's better, Logic somehow seems _smoother_ - not sure why, but I'm not complaining!

Not a fan of the "natural scroll", turned it off. It worked very well with the touchpad actually, but I don't need to be confused when switching between Mint and OSX.

Interface wise, we can now resize from the edges of the windows! Took the apple devs long enough! Maybe one day we can use the super key to resize/drag windows like on linux.

With the move being so smooth, I have thoughts about moving to a faster 7.2k drive, or even a SSD, but we'll see.

I did have one issue when attempting to purchase the ML upgrade, and a very big one indeed. Switching countries. As I bought my macbook in UK, my apple id was setup for UK. Switching the region to Canada went smoothly, but the previous purchase of Pixelmator, does not appear on the list of purchases. Which is disconcerting. Especially since stuff like Logic X is download only from the app store - imagine if I had to move to another country, and lost access to that application! Ouch!

Googling this issue brought up loads of hits, and seems like us expats are just at the wrong end of the stick. I also have had friends returning home telling me that their itunes purchase are no longer valid >.>

At this point in time, I can't see myself moving to Logic X as Logic 9 is already overkill for what I do. If I do want to move on from Logic 9 though, I would very likely choose another DAW, as I do not want to deal with having my purchases no longer be valid when I move countries.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

La Ronde

Went out to the La Ronde Amusement Park on St Helen's Island. Won't have gone myself (who goes to these alone anyways?) but my colleagues went as a bunch so it was a good opportunity to check it out.

I wonder if the weekdays would be a better time to visit, as I was there from about 12 to half past 5, and only rode five of the rides - most of the time was spent waiting in line.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Short Diversion: Allegro

A piece I've been working on for almost a month.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weather Cooling Down?

No, not really! It's been warming up the past few days, and it's a warm 28 degrees right now.

And in other news, internet access has finally been restored after over two and a half weeks. So much stuff I wanna post but sooo lazy to do so.

Here's some random art I saw.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weather cooling down

Internet has been down for over 2 weeks thanks to the cable to my house being damaged. Boo.... the Bell techs came last Saturday, told me the cable need to be re-run, and that someone would turn up the following day but I heard nothing from them till yesterday. Boo.

In theory, it will be fixed tomorrow evening, but we'll see what happens. In the mean time I've got loads of reading, gaming and music writing done, so life chugs on, just without youtube and email :P

Weather has been cooling down alot lately, I have to wear a jacket to work. Earlier this week it was cool enough to engage my room's thermostat. Guess that's it for summer!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Due is in the house!

I haven't yet powered it up, as I still need to install the Arduino IDE on my linux box - sidegraded to Linux Mint recently and it is barebones setup for Houdini. In addition, the parts I ordered were missing a few pieces, most critically... solder >.>

A few sensors were also not available, so, le sigh. Ah well. I have enough to test the com ports lol.

EDIT: So, finally got around to installing the IDE, it required a few touches; first, the ia32 libs to be installed. Next, I had to add my user to the dialout group, if not I could not use the virtual com port.If not, it works! And there's snazzy progress bars too :3

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Children of Mana: Post Mortem

So after the massive lack of gaming with the region locking hoo ha previously, I got my paws on one of the Mana series: Children of Mana. It's for DS, so works everywhere. Finished it in just over 12 hours, and I had my pre-final-boss save at level 49. I did one or two side quests but they seemed to be bog standard retrieval quests so I decided to just power my way through the main storyline.

Maybe I'm getting jaded but I found this title just not catching my heart. The art, music and controls are top notch - it's mainly that the game is more or less a variant of young-kid-saves-the-world. Again. But with a twist, he does not get the girl in the end. Yup, getting jaded.

If I really wanted to, there's 3 other characters to play with but just not feeling it. The boss fights are surprisingly simple, in fact one of the main bosses (Mana Lord) was giving me the willies due to the visuals but... got taken down by pure simple button mashing >.> The last boss was surprisingly easy as well, seemingly 3 attack patterns, that's it.

The only boss that gave me a really hard time, was the boss made out of the "revenants". According to the game clock, I spent half an hour just taking that sucker down >.> What's more amusing, is I killed it offscreen, without knowing how I did it >.> Evidently, yours truly was taking down the boss the wrong way.

Watching some youtube vids, it seems like all I needed to do was knock some broken masonry at the boss, that was it, as regular weapons do no damage in its gestalt form. I only tried that as my very last hit, randomly swinging the hammer to hit a piece of that specific masonry... and it went offscreen... and killed the boss offscreen.... >.>

The hard way (tm) was to wait till the boss splits up into revenants and then attacking the one with glowing eyes. Which is not only really difficult to see on a DS, you could not see the glowing eyes if the target was facing you with its back to the screen!

The main part of the game, which is dungeon crawling, revolves around finding a portal, and a "gleamdrop", a key that will open said portal and take you to the next level of the dungeon. I was button mashing for most of the game, but later stages challenge you with large packs of monsters that will surround you and give you a good beating, so a more tactical approach (read: keep distance and use multi-arrow attack from afar, wash and repeat) needed to be taken.

But that was it basically, going into dungeons over and over to move the storyline forward. It became very repetitive as there were no puzzles, nothing majorly different between dungeons - basically just different tiles for the dungeon and new critters for the later stages, with some recolours.

Music wise, it's really well done, but I can't really say I got a theme down in my head. The strongest impression I have of the music is the final boss fight, that was some nice pipe organ music - which immediately reminded me of FF6's 3 god fight.

A few FMVs abound in the game, short, but pretty good. I have a feeling the same company that did the FMVs for Solatorobo did these, they have a very similar feel and style.

I have Radiant Historia arriving sometime this week, hopefully it will be less hack and slack dungeon crawler than Children of Mana.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Omg omg the DUE

Haven't been keeping up with the newer Arduino boards and I am sooo excited when I read about the DUE. It's running an arm chip this time, clocking in at 84mhz (!!!) Not only that, it's got two on board DACs, and boatloads of ram. Higher resolution (12 bit!) ADC too.


Sooo excited.. I have got to get a Due to play with.

Monday, July 22, 2013

3DS Region Lock >.>

Earlier when I arrived in Montreal, I got hit by the fact that a DVD I bought won't run on my UK laptops because of the dvd region lock.

Today: Finally bought a new charger for my 3DS as my 3DS was a UK model, so uses 240V, whilst the voltage here in Canada is 110V. That in the first place is already annoying, its the only thing I brought over from the UK that does not have a universal power supply.

Also Today: Bought Final Fantasy Theatrhythm. Was going to enjoy it before bedtime but nooooo, it does not show up with my 3DS and web searches indicate 3ds games are region locked >.>

So, really great for those of us that do travel between regions, my console can't play local stuff, so what, do I need to import from the UK?! And get hit by custom charges? Why, I really do not understand the point. I'm glad software I do buy does not have shit like this. I mean, can you imagine if you bought some sample libraries that are region locked to... thailand?! And then omg, my sampler is for.... korea! I can't use my samples >.>

Rant rant rant OMG.

I'm so glad I also bought a book. Thanks Nintendo, from the people who travel the world. I guess we are a tiny proportion that is just forgettable >.>

EDIT: Place I bought the title doesn't allow for returns of games.... wow wee, awesome. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Random picture dump. BOING BZZZT

 Parc Laurier in the evening. While the area I'm living in is suburbia, there are parks of many sizes (some of them have water features for kids to play in), and there is Mont Royal like 10 mins from where I rent.
Piano! Played this little baby on my way home today. I'm still waiting to get a digital piano, and I've more or less decided to get a good one to lug around wherever I go. No stock though >.>

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Houdini Robot Vacuum Prototype

What can I say. Waaay cheaper than buying 3 rangefinders. I must admit it will be SOOOO COOL to get a real platform like this working.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Getting away from the screen

I headed of the house today as I promised myself to explore this new land I'm in. Should have gone out yesterday, as the weather was nicer (warm!) but I find it difficult to do so when I'm at the edge of completing a project (see previous post: Valse des Renards). Heck, even this morning I was just not wanting to go out of the house, trying to think up of some excuse that needed me to stay indoors.

Couldn't find any, so decided to just head out to where I planned to visit, Montreal's Biosphere.
I wasn't expecting much of it as I didn't google more than directions to get there, but I found lots of good info on how power is generated, effects of people on the planet, how a tiny changes of temperature of the oceans is actually not as tiny as it is etc.
There were some exhibits about recycling unwanted things into clothes, and another exhibit about how dams affect water downstream - with a real miniature water system with movable blocks et al to play with. I guess I was there at a good time and had the whole place to myself. As I was leaving, the entry area was jammed packed. The water room gave me several ideas

Out of the Biosphere, I fought against the instinctual urge to return home and just explore around Parc Jean Drapeau.
Lots of things were going on, food stalls were all over the place, as well as performing artists about. There was a section with acrobats, and another stage was filled with people playing music from Panama. Yet a bit further away, there was a whole tent filled with people playing ethnic drums (African, I'm guessing?). Even further along, there was a whole area (ticketed though) for EDM.
It's probably a night time thing, though there were a few people dancing to the music. I found at least two locations where DJs were pumping out tunes.

I must admit I had a great day out, and really, I should make the best of summer as I can (before winter!) but there are so many other things I wanna explore too.... >.>

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Valse des Renards

A short waltz for string quartet.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

SDF Blending

Could never figure how this paper blended the SDFs, finally figured it out :3

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cleaner power.

As a Singaporean, I only remember the rare blackout, and do not remember having any brownouts at all.

Not so much living overseas. At my London rental, I've noticed the lights slowly dim and brighten. Brownout. But this particular apartment in Montreal is quite bad. Everytime the fridge's compressor kicks in, the lights will flicker, and it will flicker at odd times as well, which I would assume is the neighbour's high power appliances engaging. I've already had one short blackout a few weeks ago.

To protect my electronic babies, I've got a Tripplite Smart 1500LCDT. Compact little thing but weighs a fair bit. It's main use is as a UPS during blackouts, which I don't really need since I only run laptops, but the other features like voltage regulation - to combat brownouts - were exactly what I needed.

After installing it, I found some of my headphone outputs no longer humm and buzz. Previously, they did, even with the volume knob at zero. Win! Testing the UPS today, it seems like the 1500VA capacity is probably overkill. A pair of studio monitors, audio interface, laptop and sample drive don't seem to consume much power at all, with the UPS indicating over an hour run time on batteries.

Guess if I ever get a new UPS, I'll definitely be scaling down my requirements. Heck, now that I think about it, the laptops don't even need to be plugged into the UPS powered sockets, just the surge protected sockets.

Alternatively, instead of a UPS with voltage regulation, a line conditioner will probably do just as well. Ah well. Live and learn.

In other news, I've decreased my room's lighting consumption from 3x 40W incandescent lights to 2x 6W LED lights (which produce 40W equivalent lighting each).

I wonder if the cost of running LED lighting outweighs the cost of actually producing the LED lighting. Previously in London, I'd swapped most of my lights to LEDs as well, and don't remember seeing it impacting that much on my energy bill. The flipside is during winter, incandescent lights actually help warm my room, not so much with LEDs!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Evidently my phone is the epitome of wireless connection.

Finally got internet access today! Took awhile to sort out the passwords and stuff, and also had to figure out some hardware difficulties. The wireless router that came with the package, a Sagemcom 2684 was choking over the wireless connection for both my linux and osx machines. Packets were dropped when I tried to ping google. Oddly enough, my Nexus 4 was using the connection at full speed.

Switching over to ethernet (good lord, first time I touched an ethernet cable in years!), my macbook was running at full speed. Seems like the laptops didn't like the Automatic Wireless A/G/N setups. Setting it to Wireless G and presto! Stuff works now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Got a new toy: Neato XV-11

Got a Neato XV-11 in the mail today. I'd always imagined the robo vaccums to be the size of a small pizza, but MadCat was of a more generous proportion. Out of the box, all I had to do was unscrew one of MadCat's battery compartments, and connect a battery pack. There are two batteries, and the other was already connected.

As I had to pull some extra time at work today, I arrived home later than I hoped, so only ran MadCat for a short while in my tiny kitchen. It does as it says on the box, avoiding stuff and sucking up crap. Very loudly, I must add.

I only let MadCat clean a tiny portion of the kitchen, and upon checking the collection box, was quite surprised at how much it sucked up.

Unlike my London studio, this new place in Montreal is very windy, and I was very dismayed to find out how quickly dust accumulates in the living room. A sweep + mop doesn't last more than a day before I find things becoming dusty.

I get this "eww must dust feet off before climbing into sofa" before bedtime. Yes, I do not have a bed. Yet.

MadCat still needs to be upgraded with some key components, like racing stripes and maybe a Singapore flag. Ideally, I'd like to mount one of those usb mini-rocket launchers on MadCat (two, LRM20s...) but I think the laser rangefinder won't like obstructions.

Anyways, enough crap. I've read loads of bad reviews for the XV-11 online, so I thought I'd post some stats from MadCat's LCD. I also bought this from on Saturday, and got it in the afternoon today. Pretty swift!

MadCat is also very adorable. When I pick it up, the LCD displays: "Please put me down on the floor" :D Awwwwww! Using personal pronouns is just so cuddly! :3

I think MadCat will be a fine companion in my travels, and I hope NOT to write more about him, unless things go sour and I'll record my experiences in the blog.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strangers In The Night

Took forever! I recorded this months ago in Singapore, but only got my example drive unpacked last week. I think the Audio Technica ATR3350 is a great mic for the price, and pairs well with the Zoom H1.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


It's the long weekend, and my plans to buy a piano have failed. But whatever, I've got more things I need for my flat - like a lamp - and now I can actually read books at night without hanging out in the mini-kitchen :P

Went over to MoogAudio to pick up a midi controller today, and found that the wall besides their building that was cleaned out has been replaced with new art. Saaaweet!

I also had a package to pick up (on a Sunday!), seems like the post office is open every single day! OMG. I also finally tried the busses today, man they are good, quick and the two buses I took had really friendly drivers.
And after a month in Canada, I finally bought some maple syrup to try :P Has a hint of a smokey flavour, I'm not sure if this is due to the brand, or natural.