MoogFest Wrap-up

Well, I had plans to post a daily blog entry for each day of MoogFest.. but to be honest… It was way too much fun to spend time writing a blog each day.  So let’s go thru the experience a bit.

Friday started with a four our session to build a new sequencer.  The MoogFest Engineer ticket gets you time with the designer of a new piece of kit, and you actually get to build your own.  This year was a BFAM (Brother From another Mother) which is a companion piece to the Mother-32.  Having not soldered since high school I was a bit worried, but it was so well organized and layed out that after 261 solder points, I am almost an export.  (Well at least capable).


My board had small capacitor on it that was broken and I had Eric from the design team replace it for me.  We ended the four our session with a completely soldered board, and ready for Saturday’s session when we finished build the case and actually running a few audio tests.  What a BLAST!  The sound of the BFAM was full, loud and fun!

Friday after noon I was only able to do one session, it was a set of video’s with a live performance by “I Speak Machine”.  The movies were entertaining, but the music was very cool.  The show ended with an ambient version of Gary Numan’s song “Cars”, by I Speak Machine.

The rest of the night was live performances at the Carolina Theater’s  Fletcher Hall. The performers were all very trance ‘ ambient music like.  Rival Consoles was the most exciting of the three, jamming to the his own music.  Alessandro Cortini was a bit too relaxed for my taste, and Grouper sat on the stage playing here guitar (and synthesizers).  I was in the front row and couldn’t tell when Grouper was actually playing things, as I saw more of her forehead than anything else.


The night ended for me with Gary Numan playing his “Pleasure Principal” album!  This is the concert that he cancelled in Atlanta back in 2010 that I had attended.  So I finally got to see it and he did an awesome job!

Saturday started with a great session all about Max-MSP, with the instrucuter showing how he uses it to build very ambient videos for live electronic shows.  And then a session on how the ear and brain understands Music.  The session was really interesting and informative; however, it came down to they had no idea how the brain understood music.  So the title was a bit misleading. 

I then went back to finish up building my Brother From Another Mother sequencer.  It was tons of fun, and I am looking forward to using the device to create a new entry sound for my podcast GamesAtWork dot Biz. Check out this final image of my new toy:


I then quickly went over to the Carolina Theater to see the final Gary Numan Show… One of my favorite albums of his – Telekon!  I decided to sit in the front row of the first balcony which allowed me a great view of the stage show and some incredible pictures –  like this one:


Sunday morning started with playing with LittleBits and building an IR LED based sound device… The show ended for me after watching Laurie Anderson on Sunday afternoon.  I’ve liked her performances since the song “Oh, Superman!” From my days in high school.  She was amazing as she talked about some of here recent work, including an exhibit where she built a giant seated statue where she projected the live video feed from one of the former Gitmo prisoners.  The guy is now in West Africa, where he is working to promote women’s rights.  He had been rounded up in Afganistan at the age of 14… He claimed not to be a Talbian supporter, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Given what he is doing now, and that he was never actually charged with anything… I tend to believe him.


She also talked about her experience as the ONLY ever NASA artist in residence.  Amazing speaker… Bummed I missed here performance on Saturday, but it conflicted with finishing up my BFAM Sequencer.  A few other interesting artists I saw where “I Speak Machine” and “Silver Apples“… Check them out!!!

MoogFest 2016 – Day 1

This is my first time at MoogFest (and I’ve been dying to go since I first heard about it a few years back).  This year is the first year that it is downtown Durham, and they are doing it up right!  I ended up getting the VIP Engineer setup, so I can make my own Synthesizer tomorrow (more to come on that – probably Saturday), they had a check in at The Durham Hotel and I picked up my Swag Bag.  The nice thing is, it is a tote bag, especially since I can’t carry my backpack into events after 6pm.  I started the day checking out the spaces, and ended up over at the Full Frame Film location.  This was the presentation of Beats and Star Wars.  While I didn’t really pay attention to the write up, it was a great presentation on a local space and the work of a UNC Chapel Hill professor, who is going around the world helping people get into producing music with everything you can carry in one backpack.  

They just launched a KickStarter for BlackSpace – I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you want to support the creative community in Durham.  

I checked out the modular marketplace, where a bunch of synth companies are setup to show off cool kit.  I spent some time playing with  the Artiphon – which was pretty amazing.  I had checked out their Kickstarter a while back, but never thought it would really work.  But, work it does!  (In my best Yoda voice). You can bend the strings, change instruments, and shift the pitch up and down… With amazing ease.   The device is $399, which is a bit rich for me, but anyone who actually plays music should find this to be completely within the range for a good instrument.  If you are in town, and ever wanted to see what this thing could be, go check them out!

I spent the afternoon in a session called The Code of Music, the session was a workshop where we tested out a bunch of apps, to get a feel for how music could be made.  We then designed our own musical experience based on design principles.  I came up with an idea loosely based on a combination of “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T”, The “Top Secret” Drum Corp, and the App Fugue Machine.  The basic idea is a performance piece where you have up to 1,000 kids on a stadium field.  Each kid has a keyboard for use with one hand, a wearable sensor, and a simple arpeggio that they play.  As the move around the field, the sensors in the wearable will adjust the pitch of the keyboard.  At a pre described distance from other kids, it will be in harmony.  As they get closer, it gets more and more into dissident sound, as the pitches start bending towards each other.  Finally as the kids touch, it becomes the same notes.  So they get to a clear and perfect pitch.   Crazy idea, I know, but would be pretty awesome to see!!

I then walked around and found that I could pick up all three live albums (signed) by Gary Numan from his UK Tour of his classic albums. These are the same three albums he’s going to be playing at MoogFest!  So I picked them up.  Can’t wait to hear them after the shows here in Durham!  Here’s a pic:

Why do routers suck so much?

I’ve had a wireless network in my house since about 2001, and in these 15 years.. I’ve noticed that the quality of routers has declined a lot.  I don’t know if this is caused by my ISP, or by the routers themselves.  When I first setup my house, I actually had a dial up modem that would be used to connect to the net.. I then switched over to a cable modem.  Since switching to a cable modem, I’ve had the same ISP the entire time, and while speeds have increased and the number of devices I’ve had connected has also increased, the overall performance has degraded.  I find myself at least once a week and sometimes multiple times a day, having to reboot my router, and my cable modem. 

I’ve gone from d-link, to Apple, and now a google On-Hub router, and none of it seems to make a difference.  The cable modem is a standard surfboard, that the cable company recommends, even though I bought my own (and have replaced it once already).

I understand that a cable modem setup, actually puts you on a shared network with your neighbors, but that shouldn’t cause a problem if the entire network is setup correctly.  I am wondering if there is a good site for debugging where the problem is?

The joys of work related travel

I can’t sleep on planes anymore.  This is a big problem when traveling to Europe, as you almost always have a redeye, which to me means working thru the night on the plane, and then trying to get a hotel to let me do an early check-in, so I can shower, and perhaps catch a nap before heading to the office.  

Well my current trip wasn’t going to let that happen.  When I left home to fly up to JFK on the way to Zurich, I had a small delay in RTP.  This wasn’t going to be a problem as I had 3 hours between landing in NY and flying out to Zurich.  Little did I know that, this was only the start of the fun.  In RTP, we had a small ground hold, and then when we landed at JFK, we ended up getting parked on the Tarmac. We got to take a bus, to get to the terminal all.  All very unplanned, and adding about 45 minutes total delay to the 1st leg of the flight.


After this, I was able to grab a quick dinner, and head to my gate.  Unfortunately there was no plane.  We had mechanical problem and after about an hour delay, the plane showed up.  While I waited I did get to see a nice NY sunset:


We finally boarded and then had to wait another half hour on the plane before we actually got in the air.  So far, only 90 minutes behind.  When we landed I had a very expensive cab ride to a wonderfully quaint hotel recommended by a local.  And now I sit and wait for the reception to show up so I can check in.   It’s gonna be a very long day.

Apple Watch Notifications

My Apple Watch Apps

One of the biggest benefits that most people use the Apple Watch (and I would assume any smart watch) for is notifications. I am beginning to wonder if I have nerve problems in my wrists. The reason I say this is that I don’t feel the notifications very often, even though I have the watch set to maximum haptic strength and notification. I also notice that when I do have the sound turned on, I don’t always hear it.

When I think of this, I remember how much I like the chimes of our standing clock at home, which I don’t “hear” 80% of the time. I guess what this really means is that I acclimate to sounds easily and they go back into my subconscious some how. I wonder if other people experience this.

Delay in App Update and Thoughts on Drones/Robots

Well, it seems that if you upgrade your development mac to a Beta version of OS X, the App Store won’t let you submit an update to your app. While I understand the limitations in the past, that if you used a beta version of the compiler the app could not be submitted, this one is a bit of a surprise.  I am not sure what Xcode is doing from a build perspective where the OS version would impact it.  Oh well, I guess I will wait until the GA of the latest OS X beta.

While I was contemplating the impact of the OS on the build process, I read an article about an IndieGoGo campaign for a Fire Fighting drone.  The article was more a cautionary tale about crowd funding, but my brain (as it is want to do sometimes) wondered to a totally different thought.  As we get more automation and innovation in the world, we look at those jobs that are dangerous or low skilled as easy pickings for new robotic solutions.  This removes the low end of the job market for many people.  We justify this by saying, this will bring new opportunity for high skilled and higher paying jobs.  While at one level, this logic makes sense, I find that we don’t address the other half of the problem.  That is, as we take away low skilled, low paying jobs, we reduce the ability for people to enter the job market at all.  Especially if we are driven by quarterly P & L statements, which reduce the incentive to take the profit and invest it into job training and education projects for displaced, low skill labor.

Drones that fight fires, would reduce loss of life and address the safety concerns of fight fires…but would we program a device to rescue a dog, in a high rise fire, if that would result in a 25% likelihood of losing the drone?  How about 50%?  75%?  What about a “priceless” piece of art?  What about an elderly relative who is on life support, and likely to die tomorrow?  What calculation would be made?

While a robot might perform skilled manufacturing for a complex piece of new technology, would the person who just got displaced by the robot be able to afford the new tech?  Do I need to continue to fund a pension plan for workers displaced by the robot?  

While robots may be a critical technology for those countries with negative population growth, they just don’t have enough workers to support their parents and grandparents … Enabling this technology (which I truly find to be cool and exciting) doesn’t mean that it will only be used in those countries where workers are hard to find.  Companies are global not local, and they will leverage the technology to improve their quarterly results globally.

Technology consistently moves faster than legislation and at times faster then morality… I believe we need to foster both at the same level.  We need to ensure that as we enable the next level of technology, we don’t leave behind our parents and grandparents or our kids and grandkids, and that we continue to innovate at the society level… Science fiction stories have two tropes, one where we no longer have to work and spend our time in leisure served by happy robots, and one where we are the servants of the robots.  I hope we find our path to the first and not the latter.  In order to find that path, we need to make sure that we don’t just focus on the P&L statement of corporations, but we focus on society as a whole.

IPhone Updates, Downloads, and Monday Mornings

Ok, I didn’t start this process on a Monday morning, but there was an “emergency” update by apple on Thursday that seemed to hose my iPhone.  The update was 9.3.1 and was to address a problem some people were having when they tried to click on links in emails.  To be honest, I rarely try to do this so I didn’t appear to be impacted by the people. However, as a developer, I tend to update my devices as soon as the updates are released.  

I recently turned off Apple Music and went back to just using iTunes Match.  With a library of about 18,000 songs, I was not getting much value out of Apple Music.  In order to allow me to have access to all my music when traveling, I had started to download one of my playlists (it’s called unplayed and unbanked – which allows me to listen to a ton of music I haven’t listened to in about 3 year or more).  This is when all my problems began.  My iPhone was having issues downloading the 8,000+ songs, and kept hanging.  After it hung, the phone would get very hot and burn thru the battery.  I tried canceling the downloads, and they would magically start back up!  It also was stopping me from being able to download new apps.  It seemed that no matter what I did (restart phone, hard restart of phone, you name it), the phone would just hang on downloads and burn thru the battery.

I decided yesterday that I had enough, and did a factory reset on the phone!  Then more troubles!  My latest backup was causing the same problems, so I went back in time and chose a backup from before the 9.3.1 update.  The restore ran over night, but sometime during the night, it stopped.  And this morning I’ve had to start reinstalling all my apps (one at a time).  At least now the phone seems to be installing apps again.  Wish me luck!

In the mean time, I found a bug in WastedTime 6.0 and submitted a fix to my App to version 6.1.  Hope Apple releases it soon!

Oh – and Happy Monday!

Minor Bugfix Update

I have just uploaded a new version of WastedTime to the iOS AppStore.  It should be posted by Apple in a few days.  I realized that my choice of hot keys for the iPad Pro edition didn’t work with all external keyboards.  So I had to change the keyboard short cuts.   Would love to hear your feedback!

IPhone Updates, Downloads, and Monday Mornings

Ok, I didn’t start this process on a Monday morning, but there was an “emergency” update by apple on Thursday that seemed to hose my iPhone.  The update was 9.3.1 and was to address a problem some people were having when they tried to click on links in emails.  To be honest, I rarely try to do this so I didn’t appear to be impacted by the people. However, as a developer, I tend to update my devices as soon as the updates are released.  

I recently turned off Apple Music and went back to just using iTunes Match.  With a library of about 18,000 songs, I was not getting much value out of Apple Music.  In order to allow me to have access to all my music when traveling, I had started to download one of my playlists (it’s called unplayed and unbanked – which allows me to listen to a ton of music I haven’t listened to in about 3 year or more).  This is when all my problems began.  My iPhone was having issues downloading the 8,000+ songs, and kept hanging.  After it hung, the phone would get very hot and burn thru the battery.  I tried canceling the downloads, and they would magically start back up!  It also was stopping me from being able to download new apps.  It seemed that no matter what I did (restart phone, hard restart of phone, you name it), the phone would just hang on downloads and burn thru the battery.

I decided yesterday that I had enough, and did a factory reset on the phone!  Then more troubles!  My latest backup was causing the same problems, so I went back in time and chose a backup from before the 9.3.1 update.  The restore ran over night, but sometime during the night, it stopped.  And this morning I’ve had to start reinstalling all my apps (one at a time).  At least now the phone seems to be installing apps again.  Wish me luck!

In the mean time, I found a bug in WastedTime 6.0 and submitted a fix to my App to version 6.1.  Hope Apple releases it soon!

Oh – and Happy Monday!

Wasted Time 6.0 finally released yesterday 

Just a quick post to say that my App – Wasted Time, was finally updated yesterday on the App Store.  After an abortive attempt at a Watch OS2 extension, I have completely re-written the app in Swift, made it fully compatible with the iPad Pro and made it so that it can run side by side with other iOS9+ apps.  As always, it requries the latest version of iOS to run, at this time version 9.3.   

  
Please update and let me know what you think.  As always the app is free and so are all the updates!