Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

MySpace, a New Space, and my Music Space

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

I have a MySpace page now. I mostly did it because of the embedded music player and the fact that they let you have up to 6 6mb mp3’s and they have more bandwidth than I do. As such I’ll be using it as the place where I release my new music first (though there will probably be a higher-quality Ogg Vorbis link here, it will be much slower).

In relation to that, I’m still looking at switching my site to a dedicated hosting company (bluehost?), but with the demise of GoodMorning, I feel a lot less motivation to do it. I know that at some point this server space will probably go away or change to the point that it is not as easy to use, but for right now it is free (thanks jjo!). Maybe once I get more music online I will want the increased bandwidth and it will be more worth it.

And as for my music, nearly three weeks ago now I took my Arp Omni II in to EMI and have yet to hear anything back, but even if only 2 of the 3 synth boards in it work, it will be worth my money. I have also been checking around for a new floppy drive for my ensoniq Mirage (a really-old-school Double-Sided/Quad-Density 720kb 3.5″ floppy drive). No luck so far, but I haven’t given up yet. I also currently have my Alesis MidiVerb4 taken apart on my desk waiting for me to replace the battery on it. These batteries don’t seem to be made anymore so I’m not sure exactly what I will do about that (maybe wiring in a connector for a more “normal” 3v coin-type). On top of ALL that, my Ensoniq SQR rack synth needs its mainboard replaced, and thesoniq seems to be the only Ensoniq shop left in the world (he seemed a pretty nice guy when I spoke to him too) so I’ll probably be sending that in eventually too. *sigh*

In spite of much of my equipment having issues, I have still been rather musically productive lately, and am still steadily working on the songs that will comprise the new Genome album, and still working on a 17hex debut release (tentatively titled “The Roots of Coincidence”, after the book of the same name by Arthur Koestler). The genome stuff is mostly waiting for me to have the time to record vocals, and a few are just waiting to be mastered. The 17hex stuff, while not having vocals, is waiting for me to finish it, except one track (a rough of which will be up on my myspace page in the next few days) which is just waiting to be mastered. I was going to master all of this with Tomtom (of GoodMorning/lushworkers/Garmonbozia/Death First fame) but he is currently spending a month in New Orleans helping with disaster relief mediation and attending Mardis Gras, so it will have to wait. That gives me time to fix up my equipment and finish the other two 17hex tracks anyway…

Our product is great, but you can’t actually use it

Friday, December 16th, 2005

There has been a frighteningly increasing trend I’ve been noticing lately: sales people coming to the District Office where I work and “demoing” a cool/useful/sought-after product (and I use the term demo very loosely. I’ve only seen two where they actually even showed the product), and then…

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NOTHING. That’s to say, the only responses we can get from them when we inquire about actually getting said product are “We can send a rep out to show you the more advanced features” or “Yes our product has that feature” (followed by the electronic equivalent of dead silence). What ever happened to actually SELLING products to people who are interested in them? We already know about the features. That’s why we want you to get a TECH out here to actually help us implement it! Instead we get immediate response when we want to talk to a sales person, and then either a run-around or flat-out ignored when we want someone to help us USE the product. Are they worried that it won’t work as well as they say it will, and they don’t want to be the ones who set it up (and are therefore liable)? After all, if WE set it up with no help from them, they can always use the “oh, our techs have never had that problem” response. Whatever. The real problem here, and the main reason why we want THEM to send a tech in the first place, is that we don’t have the time that many new technologies require on the front-end to figure them out. We want someone to come out, set it up for us (or at least help us do it so it maybe takes days instead of weeks) and teach us how to maintain it. We’re a public school district. Would real technology support be too much to ask? Apparently so, as that doesn’t translate as easily back to dollars or (to get right to the point) increased stock share value. Maybe this is another part of the reason why technology is always so far behind in education?

momentary happiness

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

For the moment, I am happy with my studio. I actually got multitrack recording to work in Linux (I had the wrong audio device setup under jackd). I also managed to get the (once thought to be broken) onboard NIC to

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work, which means that both available PCI slots can be used for music. I have a m-audio delta44 for 4 tracks of audio i/o, and a soundblaster live! for MIDI i/o and (if i decide i need it) another track of audio i/o. This is a BIG improvement over just having the SBLive! Now I just need enough shielded, balanced patch cables to be able to patch all of it effectively

I’m also trying some different things with my blog, and I’d appreciate feedback if you like or don’t like anything I put there. During the winter I usually end up totally obsessing over my website and redoing it ~239582906 times, but then pretty much ignoring it during the summer. I guess this is a fairly normal activity cycle when you live somewhere that compels you to want to stay inside for several months of the year. Yay for Minnesota, or something…

LDAP=DEVIL

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

So this is my blog. Lot’s of people have blogs, and they are used for all sorts of things. Right now, I’m using mine to complain. I’m complaining about what is (next to Sendmail. I can’t think of anything to say about Sendmail that doesn’t involve overshooting generalization or outright profanity, so I’ll just move on) one of the most complex and incomprehensible aspects of modern network computing: LDAP

LDAP = Lighweight Directory Access Protocol
This is ironic since, on the average network, LDAP is by far the LEAST lightweight of all of the different components (unless you run IIS, but then you probably either don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, or you use Active Directory, in which case you likely still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about).

Now, I do totally understand why people use LDAP and I do appreciate

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the fact that it neatly fills a niche that would otherwise only be filled by expensive commercial/closed-source software. That is why I’m not just saying that it sucks. I’m saying that it SUCKS TO MAINTAIN and it sucks to connect things like Zimbra to it. The real problem seems to be that some people couldn’t settle for using the standard “good” Ole’ LDAP. but instead had to slightly change it so that some underlying components

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are different, and then still call it “OpenLDAP” when it is not quite the same as OpenLDAP. No I can’t explain how it is different. If I could I would be fixing the problems I’m having with it instead of complaining on my blog.

And therein lies the “beauty” (as ugly as it may be) of blogs: I can post totally worthless complaints and comments that don’t benefit anyone or anything and really have little or no redeeming value, without really wasting more than a few minutes at work. But on that note…

Sony violates our Digital Rights – use Linux

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

So it’s been a while since my last post, and life certainly hasn’t “slowed down” for me to keep up. I have a new job now (as the Database System Manager at a mid-sized public school district) and spend quite a bit of my time now keeping up with new technology and figuring out how things work. I have done a lot of thinking within that context, specifically related to software licensing and legitimacy. The bottom line is that in light of the rediculous new legislation being passed in regards to Copy Protection, and the fact that Sony DRM/Copy Protected CDs install a Rootkit with no easy way to uninstall, we really need to start making hard choices about what we will and will not use and do on the computer. Gone are the days when the internet was non-commercial and when most new technology was invented “for the love” (though there are still some). Gone are the days when UNIX was expensive and proprietary, while “WinTel” was cheap and relatively open (or at least ran the straightforward DOS OS). Gone are the days (if they ever existed at all) when the “experts” at technology companies acted in the best interest of consumers, and the computer virus infection was the worst possible thing you could have happen to your computer.

We now live in the “X-Files” world of “Trust No One“, where OPENness (and maybe some strong encryption) is the only real form of security, and use of any resource constitutes support. This means if you buy one of Sony’s copy protected CDs and play it on your computer (without shutting off Auto-Run, which disables the DRM!), or even if you buy it and never play it or buy it off of iTUNES, you are supporting Sony and their cronies in the RIAA and telling them that it is OK to engage in dishonest business practices, it’s OK to charge as much as $2.50 per song, and that it’s OK to operate under a “no disclosure” policy. Companies like Sony and Microsoft and Google and Apple currently have a controlling interest in the digital content that many of us spend our day completely immersed in. I, as a computer professional, musician, and Digital Citizen, do NOT support Sony and definitely DO NOT SUPPORT THE RIAA. What choices you make are up to you, but now more than ever, please consider the effects of the choices you make. They DO affect someone other than yourself….

If you are one who uses the cop-out excuse “what the hell could I do? it’s not like I can do anything to Sony or Microsoft”. First off, everything I know tells me that if you believe that, you are right! We cannot (necessarily) fight a Zaibatsu by picketing outside its doors, but if all of the intelligent, responsible people out there who read and write blogs get pissed enough about it, we CAN engender a change. We can use operating systems and software built within an Open and Free philosophy. We can boycott companies like Sony and download our music from Independent Artists and Labels. We can tell Apple and Microsoft that we would rather use a real Open Source Operating System that promotes security and accountability, rather than their propietary closed/limited derivatives. We can make the Internet about real Freedom of Information and not about money.

But it has to start with each one of us, and it may involve some (uh oh.. here’s the scary word) sacrifice. Take my music for example. I *love* the program Ableton Live. The problem is that it is $400 retail and i think that is rediculous, even if it is arguably the best music software ever. Thankfully my next-favorite music program is of a different flavor entirely: Buzz. Buzz is a FREE windows soft-studio program with a really original interface and nearly limitless potential. The problem is that Buzz still needs a Windows platform to run, and I also think that paying $100 for a copy of XP Home (which, IMHO, is crap anyway) is rediculous. Because of that I, like many many computer-poeple I know, hung my head, ran my software cracked and, by using and furthuring these technologies, supported them without paying a dime. After I got my new job with a spiffy new laptop however, I did some serious thinking about installing cracked software on a work computer, and decided to go “legitimate”. Now my music studio PC runs Ubuntu Linux (which is easier to install than WinXP or MacOSX, IMHO), running CrossOver Office running Buzz. My music software is FREE, open, legitimate, and I’m supporting multiple communities of developers who care about social ethics and responsibility.

What choices will you make?

Major Upgrade

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Ever since I moved my weblog over to WordPress, it has become increasingly apparent that the rest of my site was superfluous in light of the plethora of features that wordpress offers. Due to that and the fact that it was time anyway,

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I did a major upgrade last night, archiving away all of my old site content as well as upgrading from wordpress 1.2 to the far superior 1.5.1. As I started the project rather late and had to work early today (where I’m posting this from) I haven’t had time to develop a new theme yet, but hopefully the new layout is quite a bit easier to read and much more secure. Another big motivation for the upgrade was that it allowed me to wipe out all the blogspam the old version had accumulated and implement a better blacklist to prevent more in the future. When I get some time later, I will be reinstating the LivePress (LiveJournal Synch) plugin, and some additional spamfighting plugins, but for right now things have to stay pretty “vanilla”.

Oh yeah, I suppose I should add some content again too….

“Free” as in “Beer”

Sunday, January 23rd, 2005

This post is being made from Linux. I have installed a second hard drive in my workstation and installed Agnula on it, which is an aronym

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for A GNU Linux Audio distribution). Basically it’s a very custmized install of Debian designed around low-latency audio and MIDI. Cool. Just starting

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to play with it, so we will see how this goes. Now if I can only get Ableton Live to run in Wine.