Archive for January, 2013

supervillain sound

I’ve been thinking for a while that Criminal Studios wasn’t quite the right name for the Lair’s recording environment, and that Supervillain Studios might be better. But while a heat ray is pretty damn neat, I haven’t been entirely convinced it’s enough to merit exactly that much better.

But now that I have the Rainmaker, and other villains showing up in the Lair? I think it’s time for an upgrade. Criminality is fine, but Supervillainy? That’s awesome.

I do worry a little bit about the whole name recognition thing (“What happened to Criminal Studios?” “I dunno. Bumped off, I guess.”). But at my scale I think it’s safe not to think too much about that.

More importantly, there’s a videogame company in California called Supervillain Studios. Do I need to care about that?

Maybe Supervillain Sound. That seems to solve it, while still being significantly sibilant. Also, touches on the Puget part of the Salish Sea.

We don’t have a logo, tho’. Should I make a logo?

conflikt 2013

Hey, back from Conflikt! They were in a new hotel this year, and the social flow of the convention really benefitted from the new room geometry. Thanks to Dave “Salad of Doom” Tinney, I gained like three pounds despite not eating out once, and it is a damned good thing he’s not cooking for me regularly, that’s all I can say.

What kind of convention is it? It’s the kind of convention where I end up doing excerpts from musical theatre at 1am Monday morning, that’s what kind. (I still have glitter stands in my hair, but that’s okay.)

Not that late yet, but pretty damn late
photo jen_kalea

Also the kind where I got to catch up with a bunch of people I don’t see very often, like Allegra and John and Heather and Ben and Shaddyr and all these people I’ve now met a few times at events and really like! but whose names are right now just gone, like Guitar Player With Memory Issues Like Mine, and Not Sue But Reminds Me Of Her from Georgia, and like the solo I was going to play on stage on Sunday morning.

…which was actually kind of funny; I joined an instaband to play a Blind Lemming Chiffon comedy song about Thing from The Addams Family, and his unhappiness about his career. They wanted a zouk solo, which I never do because I’m normally playing out alone, so I stole one of Tom Schultz’s guitar solos from “Peace of Mind,” which is a song about careerism, and the kind of joke only people at conventions like this would get.

Anyway, I’m up there, and the bridge comes around, and I hit the first note…

…and it is gone. The whole solo is out of my brain. BYE! So I go, “uh” and just start improvising in key, in the right rhythm. “Is this it? Nope. Is this it? Nope. Is it comin’ back? … … … Nope! Have I played enough notes yet? … Yes! Outro!” And we’re into verse three.

So that was kind of hilarious, but to the wrong people, namely, us. The audience didn’t know anything was wrong, they even thought it was kinda cool.

But hey, I survived my first on-stage zouk solo. Everybody wins! XD

Anyway, that was fun. And both exhausting and energising, so I’m wiped out, but in that good kind of way. But now, back to work!

a whole big band of yellow

Hey kids, I was up until 3am last night working on the Faerie Blood/Bone Walker soundtrack, and this drum track sounds pretty damn cool, but Iiiiiiii’m pretty sleepy. The plan was to sleep in today and then head down to Conflikt, but you know how once in a while you just get one of those


mornings? And you’re still tired, but sleep has taken a holiday? Yeah.

Pretty much me

So, enjoy this article about deleting skyscrapers from the top down, and yes, there is video, and yes, it’s kind of freaky but awesome. And here’s an article talking how the ground actually moves during an earthquake. There’s an animation and it’s SCIENCE! Not bullshit.

Anybody gonna be at Conflikt? Any of you there already?

a different kind of on air sign

I wanted to have a second on-air sign for inside the studio, so I could see whether the signs were on or off an keep track more easily. The second was a duplication of the first, the one that I posted about already.

But I’ve had problems with minions (particularly Minion Paul) coming to the door and being afraid to enter or knock because there’s no sign out there. With a second controller already being in place, it’s really quite simple to make a third, hanging off the same controller, so I did. But being out of LEDs, I made a different kind this time.

Bento compartment box plus…

hee hee hee hee hee

I love my light-dotted I. It’s silly, but I love it so. 😀

Do you think there’re enough hipsters on Etsy to buy the ones I make out of cassette cases? The bento box ones probably aren’t retro enough, but the cassette case ones, maybe. What do you think?

[poll id=”25″]

failed me for the last time

You have failed me for the last time, Admiral Shack

is there an echo in here

Thanks to weird network events today, today’s post is potpourri. We’re going to have to schedule some server downtime at The Murkworks soon; I’m just hoping we can limp through January and do it in February, due to reasons. There’ll hopefully be an announcement before the downtime, and not after.

First, as some of you know, my partner Anna has medical news again. So to break out of that resulting mood, she’s put Faerie Blood on sale, both print and epub editions. And in better news, Carina Press has released the cover for her next book, Valor of the Healer. Check those out.

Most commentary and discussion that happens on this blog is over on the Livejournal and/or Dreamwidth echos, of all places. A little on tumblr. But I get comments here, too, so I check the spam folder for false positives. That’s where I found this:

Is there an echo in here?

…which is the first time I can recall seeing my own blog mined for response fodder for my own blog.

The spambots seem to be devolving. Goddammit, we were so close!

Also, some of you need this very badly. You’ll know who you are:

And this Earth Science Picture of the Day is lovely. I wish I’d taken it:

click to embiggen

That’s all for now. As I hope you can appreciate, I’m a little distracted. This is round five, if you count the two years of thyroid surgery, and between those two years and the newer issues – that’s the year I got hit by the car while out biking, and spent nine days unconscious in the ICU.

So things have been a bit… disturbed… for a while now. Hopefully Monday – the next appointment – will go well and all will be okay after all. That would be refreshing.

remote control

Thanks to everybody who threw me pointers after Monday’s post on remote keyboard controls for Ardour. THE WINNERS ARE YOU! Also a winner is me, particularly thanks to If on Tumblr letting me know about OCS, a control protocol for sound software. Ardour supports it! Ardour was even an early adopter…

…which means they do everything differently to everyone else, which makes it L33T HAX TIEMS! Or, well, flaily hax tiems, to all honesty. So, in TouchOCS, I made a thing:


…that also works on iPad…

BIGGER devices!

…and since TouchOSC exists on Android, it should work there too.

TouchOSC doesn’t want to talk the flavour of OSC that Ardour speaks, so it talks to a minor variation on this PureData script which translates it to Ardour’s dialect. So far all I can get working are transport controls, but that’s what I really need anyway. But look, it works!

If I have time I’ll learn more about PureData and add more commands. There are ways around the limitations of TouchOSC, they just aren’t accounted for in the script I pulled down off

Here’s the TouchOSC panel data file for the control surface in the pictures. Consider it Creative Commons Open Source yadayada go play with it. It’ll work with the stock PureData script I linked above, modulo the edits you have to make to have PureData running on your machine.

ALSO! You guys sent int two other good DIY toolkit pointers. They’re good for making haxy special controllers and I might yet use them for something else. First, lj:cdk pointed out that Ultimarc makes a bunch of interesting controller parts. Very cool stuff, lots of options for building. And second, an even more interesting device appears courtesy If, who pointed me at Makey Makey, an interface so flexible you can literally connect a banana and use it as a control toggle.

Obviously someone needs to use a banana to drive Fruit Ninja.

Thanks again to everybody who threw out ideas and suggestions!

youtube and heather dale

If you haven’t seen this, it’s video of Heather Dale of The Heather Dale Band, trying to get YouTube’s attention. They tried to sign up to get micropayments off of YouTube’s royalty micropayment system, but YouTube has decided that they don’t actually own and didn’t actually write their music.

Now, this is bullshit, of course, and Heather has provided (and can again provide) all the evidence of ownership needed. But she’s not merely been told she didn’t write her own material, she’s been told she and her band can’t even contest this ruling, or even further contact the programme. And all attempts to contact YouTube at any level have been rebuffed.

And this is, frankly, about par for the course for most of the “social media” environment. YouTube routinely makes bad decisions on ownership – not just bad, but laughably bad. I’ve had three of my own videos – solo live performances filmed myself or by fans – flagged as DMCA violations of other people’s work.

So far, I’ve been able contest successfully through their automated system, which has surprised me. But seeing Heather and Ben’s experiences, I’m becoming more convinced that this has a lot more to do with me not trying to monetise my YouTube channel than anything else. If YouTube doesn’t have to give me royalties, or even a meagre percentage of some royalty fractional micropayment, they don’t have much incentive to deny my counterclaims when someone or something – more likely some software – throws a bullshit DMCA takedown claim at me.

But if I am trying to get money, well, that’s an entirely different story, and I think that’s where Heather and Ben are running into trouble.

YouTube really doesn’t have incentive for this system to work at all. I rather suspect it exists as a guard against infringement lawsuits. “See? We pay out.” But if you don’t have the money to hire a big enough lawyer to go up against Google when YouTube’s lackadaisical system fails, well, screw you.

Because honestly, what’s their incentive for having a good process, much less making the right decision? They’re a large, public corporation; if there’s not a monetary incentive, there is no incentive, and there’s not a monetary incentive here.

Simply put, such incentive doesn’t exist.

So. It ends up being once again who you know. They’re looking for an actual person inside YouTube or Google who can override the autoresponders and let them get the royalties they’re due under this programme. Are you that person? If not, do you know that person? Heather and Ben are more sanguine about that person being out there than am I. Hopefully, they’re right. Go tell them.

oh it went up already

I mentioned in that last post being miced up – excuse me, apparently, miked* up – and surrounded by drums, which was making it hard to use the keyboard on my studio’s digital audio workstation.

This is why. I’ve been talking about doing a bunch of engineering for Leannan Sidhe recently, but the whole “possibly doing a guest appearance on their album” thing has gone unsaid – well, until now.

I was the turkey the WHOLE TIME!

Sadly, it is not the return of Fake Drumkit. It’s two tracks of bodhran (tuned differently and effected quite differently), two kinds of bells (Chinese and African), and a ratchet noisemaker which sounds a little like kokiriko, but with more harshness. If anything, the result is a little bit kabuki; I was afraid they’d find it a little sparse and alien. But they liked the test mix I sent over last weekend so much that they said it might not even need cello! And everything they do has cello. So we’re on.

The song is called “Once More,” and it’ll be on the album Mine to Love. They have the money to complete recording and mixing, but are a little short on funds for mastering and replication, so have a campaign going for that. You want to hear it? Awesome. Help them pay me. XD

*: Goddamn, English is stupid. Is there a K in microphone? No. Do you call it a mik? No. You call it a mic. And yet.

does this even exist

Over the last few days, I’ve realised there’s a studio toy I really want, but can’t quite find. If I can’t find it, maybe I can build it – or maybe that should be the other way ’round, eh? Regardless, maybe some of you guys can help.

One of the many cool things about midi is how you can have arbitrary controllers in variety of functionalities. You can, for example, buy banks of knobs and sliders. And all they do is send MIDI signals. This is great, because then you can assign them in whatever software you’re controlling to any function you want controlled. There are also banks of buttons, and so on. More commonly, you get mixed devices.

drool pad not included… or needed, really, but I would like this one or this one

I want that, but USB (or wireless-to-USB), and sending user-settable keyboard character combinations. I want a small remote pad that I can set up to have one button send a space, another button to send Shift-R, another button to send HOME, another to send END, and so on. Ideally, it should be able to send any button combination from a 101-key keyboard.

There are two reasons I want this.

One: If you’re surrounded by drums and mics (just for example) in my studio and you want to enable record and start the virtual transport, it’s difficult to do so in time to sync up with the pre-existing tracks you might be working against. Not that this was driving me crazy over the weekend or anything.

Two: Ardour is FULL of keyboard shortcuts. No, I mean full, like every goddamn key on the keyboard does some damn thing. If you’re reaching over something to get to some key or other (say, SHIFT-R, to enable master record), or in the wrong mode (which this mostly won’t fix), it is really easy to either hit the wrong key(s), or hit the right keys, but have them do different things, because not only are they loaded, they’re overloaded.

overconfidence not included

Basically I want a control panel that isn’t so overloaded, and I want it to go anywhere in the room.

I’ve thought about getting a minikeyboard, maybe a wireless minikeyboard, and hax0ring it. I may well do this, because I don’t want to build a USB interface and I don’t want to build a keyboard interface for that USB interface, and besides, I might want to add some more buttons later. But I worry about how easy (or difficult) it might be to send numeric keypad keys specifically, and how reliable soldering to surface pads will be, since I want to move this thing around a bit and it will get knocked about.

Now, there are some gamepads out there that might be good. The cheaper one I found doesn’t actually let you reprogramme what keys the pads send, and as annoying as I can find Ardour’s spaghetti of hotkeys, I don’t want to change them. I might want to use someone else’s workstation at some point. The ones which do let you reprogramme the pad’s keys are a bit spendier, and tend to be large and/or weird. But more importantly, they appear to require external software. This may just be for the purpose of changing key assignments, so I could run it once on a different machine and forget about it – but the data pages don’t make that entirely clear. If someone knows for sure, tell me?

Also I’d need to take a hacksaw to parts of it because of all the do-not-want.

Really, do I need to go all Arduino for this? I don’t want to. Anybody got ideas?

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