Friday, September 30, 2005

the joe blftsplk of bloggers

The ancient cartoon strip "Li'l Abner" had a character called "joe btfsplk". He was a droopy looking guy with a dripping dark raincloud that hung closely over him, a backwoods bad luck magnet, anything he'd come near would go wrong and he was assiduously avoided by the other characters.

It seems likely I may be the Joe Bftsplk of bloggers. I am fairly certain that almost no one has visited this blog other than bots and comment spammers, which is kind of a shame because there is some interesting stuff.

there seem to be a bunch of misspellings of the characters name, I include them all here, underscoring my capability as a blogger

the seasons are changing

This is very pleasant time of year, mostly. The sun noticeably comes up in a different place, and goes down in a different place than it has been. It has been very warm throughout September, and we are just getting actual autumn weather now. The leaf colors don't change as gradually as they do a bit futher north, mostly they go straight to yellow then brown, but there are some pleasant variations.

This morning was the first morning that I was able to see my breath. This is the time of year I get sick. Almost always, when seasons change from summer to fall and fall to winter, I get sick. Usually not bad awful sick, but sore throat and congestion, and sometimes worse with strep or flu. So right now I've got a mild sore throat, which is a drag but I'll get over it.

Here are some other electronic music blogs, found with Google's Blog Search:

Electronic Music World
Lagowski's Electronic music site
Electronic Music magazine
chilled electronic music

Here is the intricate search I used.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Plogue Bidule, HID extractor and thrift USB devices

Plogue Bidule is a way to plug together MIDI and audio software things. It is very flexible, you can get very complex with it, I have not really gotten complex with it, but then I haven't had to.

One really great thing it can do is to extract HID data from USB input thingies like joysticks and keypads. Set it up to extract the data and send notes, and a simple USB 16 key numpad becomes a MIDI controller, with just a little bit of bidulery to get it to work.

In the HID extractor bidule, you select 'keyboard'. What this does is cause all the keys on the keyboard to produce MIDI pitches/notes, including those on the USB keypad. Then, you set up a Note Filter to filter out all notes except the ones on the USB keypad. Then, you set up your app in MIDI learn mode (ctrl+m for Live) and select the functions you want to map to the buttons that make most sense to you. Note that the NumLock will produce a continuous note value if you don't filter that out.

So now my nifty little keypad does - to go to previous scene, + to go to next scene, <- to xfade left, "5" to xfade center, -> to xfade right, / to stop clips, * to start them, and 1,2,3 arm audio tracks 1,2,3.. and the others I haven't mapped yet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

P5 glove and Rejoice

There is software called Rejoice that converts P5 glove HID into MIDI. It is very easy to get started setting it up, and it helps you practice using the P5 glove.

I'm going to be using this more and more in conjunction with Live 5 and am planning to use to improvise tracks at the Jammin Java open mic I'll be playing on 9/19.

Using this in combination with virtual MIDI cable/yoke software like Loopbe1 MIDI or IPMIDI, the movement of a single finger can be mapped to note and midi CC commands.

The IPMIDI app allows you to send MIDI via UDP over Ethernet or WLAN, so you can wave your hand around and control MIDI devices on a remote computer, which is about as sci-fi music as you can get it.

The funny thing is you can get a P5 Glove for less than $15 at WalMart. It's mainly a Windows thing, although there is experimental software for other platforms.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Working with DVDs

I have authored and duplicated some DVDs. I have two apps which I've used, "MyDVD" and "Roxio Media Creator 7.0". The first is rated high by PC Magazine for authoring (less so for other things) and the second is rated as the best all around consumer media app.

However, DVD authoring and coping has proven to be one of the more mysterious and time consuming things I've ever done with a computer. I can author a CD, and burn one copy of it, with MyDVD-- that might take 1/2 hour to burn at 'High Quality' setting. But if I want to make additional copies, that might take, basically, for freaking ever. If I want to copy one disc to another, that might complete, or may never. I can let the machine run all night, and it will never complete. The tech support for the MyDVD app seems to think that an hour, two hours, spent burning a DVD is really quite good. This puzzles me. If I have a DVD drive that says "4x", one would think that one could burn 1 hour of video in 15 minutes. That's the way it works with audio. It does not seem to mean that. It seems to mean "you are an idiot for even contemplating trying to duplicate DVDs". So I got a 16x DVD drive, mounted it in a USB box. 16x seems to mean "Oh, yeh, you're an idiot all right".

These are legit captured from DV camera videos, btw, not trying to rip anything or anything like that. I have spent many many hours, often resulting in a 47% complete progress bar hanging and giving up, tossing the DVD. The good news is, once one of them gets done, it actually plays in a settop DVD player, where I hear some of them won't.

I haven't gone to DVD duping/authoring forums to ask, not yet anyway, but maybe will do that.

Thoughts about New Orleans, final

Saw some video online from CNN. One item was that the Lousiana state deputy director of Homeland Security had told the Red Cross not to go into N.O. to aid in the downtown/Superdome areas because it was too dangerous.

Another item was video of the evacuation. The vast majority of people who were able to evacuated when advised to. But there is basically no way to leave the New Orleans area without going miles over a major bridge or causeway type road-- walking out of there is not a trivial undertaking.

It's important to remember that this scenario has been well understood as possible for sometime, computer models generated with respect to levee failure and the like. It certainly seems like there would be some idea of the percentage of people that would be unable to evacuate.

But no real provision was made for the people who could not evacuate, who did not have transportation or needed special transportation. There was video of a school bus depot, post Katrina, flooded, full of school busses mired up to the windows in water. Were people who could not leave but were wanting to, directed to go to pickup points prior to the storm? Couldn't those school busses have been mobilized at that time for that? Also, as big as these facilities were, the Superdome and Convention Centers were apparently not sufficient, nor were sufficient provisions stocked in these locations. They certainly could have served as school bus terminals prior to the storm, however. Not sure if that happened or not.

At any rate, if an uninvolved, comparatively ill informed observer like myself can note these things, why couldn't the people responsible for planning for this generally well understood situation?

Part of this seems like places like private nursing homes and private hospitals are apparently expected to deal with this without government help, and arrange transportation for their patients. They didn't, so their patients died. But if the Red Cross could've been allowed to assist them, that may have been different.

So the long and short is that there were resources that could have been leveraged before and during the crisis that were not, some of those because of explicit decisions not to and others because of omission of their use for what seem to be either overlooking them or unclear authorization.

Also many things about the Federal response have been said, my thought is "What would the ideal president have done?". The ideal president would have taken pains to get network time to announce: "It is very possible that a signficant American city is about to experience a major natural disaster that has been analyzed as having catastrophic consequences. It's the hope that this does not occur, because I'd much prefer to be wrong about this, but here's what's been predicted by experts...". Then, after explaining that, he would have gone over a summary of the response plans, how people are already evacuating, and what organizations were responsible for evacuating those would could not.

Things would still have gone wrong, but not as wrong as they did.

This particular blog is not about politics, so this will be the last post on the subject, but here's what I think we should take away from this:

Have enough food and water on hand and an evacuation plan in case of emergency in your area, a plan with variations that do not rely on mechanical transportation or utilities, because you can't expect outside help.