I finished up my version of the Atari Punk Console (APC) a few days ago. At its core, it's just a simple 555-based oscillator
but I added a few twists (LEDs, speaker, switched caps and resistors). Even though I wanted to incorporate some of those nice Wacky Willy's piezos, I just couldn't hack anything decent sounding with minimal components...so I tossed it and opted for action over a drawn-out design period. I like that it's gritty and analog while still throwing out that low-res 8-bit sound that's all the rage these days...and it sounds especially nice and thick when bathed in effects.
I used the APC thing as a means to revisit board design, layout, and crafting, since it had been quite some time since I last did one. I maybe even picked up a few tricks along the way (ie. I never actually tried nail polish before etching to fill in pits/gaps). It's nice to build again.
I'd like to pick up micros again, mostly PIC or AVR, and I'd prefer to have a USB-powered programmer that supported in-circuit action. The arduino is a popular and flexible choice...and although it's slick, I still think it's kinda pricey. I'd rather spend a little more on a nice flexible usb programmer (Linux and windows support preferred) and roll my own bread/etched boards...got any good suggestions?
This week marked our 1-year quit mark for the quitting of the smoking! Really, it seems like only yesterday...and even tho I still crave on occasion, it's certainly become easier with each passing day. The Bikram yoga has certainly been instrumental in the success.
Finally, I posed a few new pd patches and an update or two over on my pd page.
The last Dorkbot PDX meeting was virtual because of the extreme snow and dangerous road conditions...the one before that was excellent and drew quite a few new faces. It was certainly a record for the most contraptions on the table....I hope that trend continues! It's kinda exciting to be living during this trippy time of convergence and appreciation of technological weirdness...
Fri Dec 08 2006 21:36:07 GMT-0800 (PST)
Moods are odd. Moods are moody.
I managed to walk into the record store that I've been walking by for 6+ months since my office moved from the arts district to a strip-mall suburb. Surprisingly, it was a pretty nice shop with a good inventory and a nice (and talkative!) owner. I'm no expert, and I'm really not even a record collector, but I walked out with 3 records for $5:
Patti Smith Group - Radio Ethiopia. Of course, I know of Patti Smith (through punk references/tributes, primarily from Sonic Youth), but I'm not really familiar with the work. I gave this record a listen and really enjoyed it. It started off a little rocky, ended with a wonderful experimental kick. Will totally recommend and listen again soon...
Leon Russell - "Carney" - I bought this only for the cover art, which looks like a proper original version of Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses. The music isn't bad, I guess, but I didn't really get into it. Mostly bluesy white guy stuff. There are a few gems, but none were amazing. The first track on side B sounds like the Liquid Sky soundtrack tho, and that's pretty freakshow circus style.
There's a cacophony show tonite, a really good one in fact...but I'm just not up to going. I'm at home, listening to records, fiddling with a breadboard and drinking beer.
Tue Nov 07 2006 23:14:29 GMT-0800 (PST)
It's been some time, mostly because I intentionally delayed posting because of a drawn-out server migration. That's right, I've finally migrated noisybox.net (and related sites) off the 2U VA Linux beast and onto a newer, quieter, more efficient box with more storage. It's true: Noisybox is literally less noisy! Since I last posted, I did manage to get overlays and a manual for the Alltalk device I described before. Through some very simple testing, I have concluded that the Alltalk requires the battery to be present and charged to function properly. I haven't yet had time to do additional troubleshooting, but I suspect something else may be going on in the power circuits. More on that later. For now, I have scanned the manual and inserts and made them available on an Alltalk page. A few really good notes on the Linux/Debian front that I discovered recently...the Jack HEAD branch has finally incorporated the "clockfix" for dual core AMD64 users like myself! This means that the jackd server can now (from 0.102.20 onward) be started with -c option ("-c hpet" for amd64 I believe) to choose the clock source and prevent drift in tight realtime setups. This hasn't made it into Debian unstable yet, but I'm sure it will soon. Similarly, tight realtime users (like myself) used to have to run a patched version of PAM (libpam) that understands the new kernel's approach to setting realtime limits for users. Fortunately, Debian unstable now contains 0.79-4 of libpam-runtime that understands the rtprio settings. One note -- my patched version seemed to use "rt_priority", but the new stuff uses "rtprio"...don't let that sneak up on you! I recorded a 3" CDR during the summer and slowly mixed it into a reality sometime in September. The album is called Atu XV, and I finally managed to make it available online (also here and here). Ever since I moved back to Portland, I've been wanting to do the tour of the Shanghai Tunnels that run underneath part of downtown. Last week was the Day of the Dead, and I was fortunate enough to make it to the Soriah+Lana performance that was held in the friggin tunnels. The performance was really enjoyable, I'm certainly glad I crawled underground to be there. I emerged with an evil smirk and a renewed appreciation for the great things Portland has to offer. Last, certainly not least, the PDX Dorkbot is continuing to come together...if you live in the area, drop by one of the meetings, join the mailing list, and help us out. We're mostly looking for chairs and a projector, but we can use all other variety of goods and services. If I stop procrastinating, I'll be giving a short talk about the p5 glove and pd at the first "real" meeting.
Sadly enough, it seems that Wacky Willys will be no more as of this coming Sunday. I recommend heading over there to pay your respects and bid farewell to the I stopped by this weekend and picked up some general supplies, but scored an interesting device called the "Small Alltalk". The unit is a little larger than a laptop and has tape in/out jacks, a mic jack, a built-in speaker, power jack, and a built in rechargeable battery pack (which I actually can't find at the moment). The top is covered with a touch-sensitive, grid-based screen in which paper(?) overlays were once installed (mine has no overlays). The touch mechanism seems very similar to the touch and tell.
(The only photo I could find online, and it's horrible quality and doesn't exactly match my revision)
From what I can tell, the apparatus was used in developmental rehab classes and was helpful for people with certain handicaps, like those that prevent people from speaking normally. Unlike other similar pieces, this one used actual recorded speech and could be reconfigured/rerecorded (sounds an awful lot like a 1986 sampler, eh?)
When I got it home, I plugged it in and started pressing random buttons. Oh wonderful grating noise belched forth from the speaker...but it was near impossible to tell what I was actually pressing without an overlay. A few more presses and the noise subsided. A few more, and it entered a strange mode that prevents it from making any more sound.
Unfortunately, there's very little information online about the Small Alltalk built 20 years ago. Through much digging, I discovered the name of a place that repairs them, and I tried calling at 10:30 last night. When a woman answered half asleep, I apologized, said that I had the wrong number, and hung up. While at work today, my phone range and a gentleman asked why I had called his house at 1am! I apologized again and explained that I was trying to reach a service business and dropped the name of the device. Sure enough, this nice old guy used to build the things!
Well, we had a really great chat and he filled me in on a little history. I asked about the company that manufactured them (Adaptive Communication Systems, or ACS), and he indicated that the owner just one day closed up shop (sounds sad and eerily familiar, eh?). He seemed to think that he might have a few manuals and/or overlays in his shop, and he obliged me by offering to send one! If all goes well, there will be a resurrection!
Fri Sep 22 2006 10:20:41 GMT-0700 (PDT)
I've been banging around on another pd abstraction that's turning into a nice sound generation tool. As with most pd interfaces, it's not much to look at, but it's being called "caradisio" and it looks something like this:
I'm posting prematurely and apologize for not having sample audio yet.
Although the number of controls is smallish, this thing can sound like an epileptic seizure in a field of cold mud, rusted metal, and broken glass. The concept is pretty straightforward: Take a wavetable synth and evolve the waveform in nasty ways (in this case, pin, lin, and sin). With some reverb, it starts to sound nice and thick...and sometimes there are secret eerie voices that creep in from the muck.
When I finish and clean it up more, I'll post it to my pd page.
(Aside: I think that if pd ever gets antialiasing [for both fonts and controls] and gets more/enhanced drawing primitives for data structures [hello...arc or circle!], we could start to generate some decent interfaces.)
Oh, and I've recently started associating with the newly started dorkbot pdx collective. It's still in its infancy, but the people seem smart and interesting, and I'm sure we can turn the group into something wonderful.
Mon Sep 04 2006 23:32:22 GMT-0700 (PDT)
The Gold Room by Lee Rosevere (whose work I'm otherwise not familiar with) is a well-executed interpretation of a not entirely new concept. Beautifully reverberated drones, drawn out, smooth, quiet, and patient. Certainly worth your time to listen...especially in the evening. And speaking of appropriation, I joined up with Danridge on Saturday to check out Kill Yr Idols at the Clinton Street Theater. If you're familiar with any of the No Wave stuff or enjoy Swans/SY/Lunch or whatever, it's certainly worth the price of admission. Hell, I suppose the scathing commentary from the elders is worth the price alone (live footage from the 70s is a rare, solid bonus!). Seeing the new wave of no wave ramble was often a riot. The stark contrast was both uncomfortable and hilarious. Gira, however, tells us that he has no wisdom. Just see it, consider for yourself. Since I keep coming back to Spybey, I decided I should buy some of his newer stuff...and so I grabbed the "Reformed Faction Of Soviet France" and "Klaverland Klompen Voetbal Club". As usual, I think both are quite good. We barbecued yesterday: Halibut, veggie burgers, beef. The cousins and family came over, a good time was had. We played Frets on Fire on the TV, cooked and made a mess and otherwise goofed off. I think it was the first time we had two kids on the house at the same time...and it was easy. :) I've been keeping an eye on the Chumby, because even though it's got pretty tame hardware, I love the idea that it's got WiFi and love the idea that it's silent and the price is actually approaching reasonable. In fact, I'm convincing myself to buy one (of course, when they're actually available and not just vaporware) if only to support the fact that they encourage hacking and spec out open hardware. Stacy's been wanting to install some bifold doors in the house, so we started that next home project today. Turns out to be a gigantic hassle. Or maybe hassle means "interesting challenge" (or at least I used to think as much). Of course, the only off-the-shelf doors you buy at the home remodling place won't fit the space previously occupied by sliding doors...so we get to build it out and install moulding to decorate things and cover up the gaps. What started out as hanging a couple of closet doors and tacking up some moulding has turned into a major wall extension and refinishing project. In spite of it all, I secretly kinda enjoy banging on stuff with hammers and trying to figure out how to make it all work out...after all, why would a 2x4 actually be 2"x4" (it's more like 1.5"x3.5")? It's moderately interesting that Infiltration Lab has an entry on last.fm without my intervention. It lives. After the next Infiltration Lab release or so, I'm going to try and spend some time on a 'bot that draws with pens. The downside, though, is that there is no time.
I posted a few new abstractions (mostly controls stuff) on my pure-data page and finally decided that it was time to join the pd webring. Of course, I have no idea if I'll generate the 4 hits/month to actually stay in the ring...heh, but being next to Frank's footils.org sure does help. Guess I got lucky. :) I've also got a set of 3" mini CDRs and jewel cases and labels being delivered today for the two simultaneous releases I hope to do in the next month or so. Maybe that's optimistic, but sometimes you gotta be. Oh yeah, and of all things, I'm playing golf today with the dorks from work. At least it's not 1000 degrees outside like the previous years.
Sun Aug 06 2006 00:26:20 GMT-0700 (PDT)
Ongoing stuff from recent happenings. Last weekend was the (last?) Cacophony event at Weapons of Mass Compassion. No, not the other Portland cacophony, but one actually related to the meaning of the word. I captured some images, posted them here. According to my failing memory, the fAWN sound was a top-notch stand out, and the unusal tones spewing from two oboes remain vivid. It was a swell show. The uncomfortable Fando and Lis imagery projected during several sets prompted me to seek out a few surreal classics I haven't yet seen. Stacy and I are renting a rad little ultrasonic baby listening device to track the pregnancy. We're limiting it to 5 minutes once a week....but oh yes, there are recordings full of great sounds. My girl is a trooper...she carries my babe and puts up with my madness. This week it was announced that the something-million startup company I work for was fully acquired by a something-billion company. Of course I can't speak freely in a public forum, and to be fair, it's only been a few days, but from what I can tell, this is going to be less than desirable. Ryan had a birthday fest last night with some friends. He showed off his grey water recycling-slash-shower rig that he's building for the burning man thing. Fun smart stuff. Flocculant. Tonight was a potluck party for the bikram yoga studio where I study, and it was a swell good time. If you know much about Portland or yoga or both, you'd think this thing would be filled with pseudo spiritual hippie mumbo jumbo, but it was [surprisingly?] down to earth, quite grounded [normal?]. The host, John, has a fantastic spread overlooking Oak's Bottom and a fantastic view of downtown. On the yoga front, I just started the practice back up after taking 3 weeks off after abusing the hell out of my injured or torn hamstring. It's slow going, but it's great to be back. And I finally made it to the Dutch American Import Store, which is apparently the only place in the area where you can get a properly salted licorice! I stocked up proper and am presently working on the DZ coins (oh how I missed your evil saltyness)! Looking forward to the "EXTRA STARK SALMIAK PASTILLEN" diamonds. They didn't have the salty fish licorice that I got hooked on, though, and I'm still looking for the freaky "Piss Ants" hard candy (Danish?) that Georg had in HS....(hilfe?)...
I had the chance to catch Primer at a coworker's house last night (on a gigantic screen in a basement). As with most good movie experiences, I knew nearly nothing about the film going in, but I was wowed. I won't spoil it, but some people probably make comparisons to Pi and Memento and perhaps even Office Space. If you're a sci fi fan, please, go view this thing as soon as possible. In similar film news, I'm also admittedly looking forward to The Descent, even tho I haven't seen Dog Soldiers (want to). I need to be more wary of Hollywood trailers...they just can't be trusted anymore. I stumbled on the fact that another Tarantino/Rodriguez horror flick called "Grind House" is in the works. Very very hopeful indeed. Anything that's got Corey Webster [Josh Brolin] in it is A-ok by me! I should really rant again about how the current geopolitical climate is causing us to entering another horror movie renaissance, but that's for another time.
Sun Jul 23 2006 17:25:12 GMT-0700 (PDT)
Maybe I didn't make it explicitly clear, but sheesh, IE is just a gigantic steaming pile of crap. I'm pained by even using it while building my site redesign. Compared to Firefox, it's just completely inconsistent and broken. I just realized that the png js hack thing does something weird with images and rollovers, but I don't think it's worth fixing. If you're [still] using "that blue E" (as my mom likes to call it), you'll see what I mean. In any case, I got a new noisybox splash screen up (and working, I think). It's not exactly fun trying to position things using css with a relative-but-absolute approach whereby some things must be absolutely aligned relative to other things (like the intro now). I wonder if there's a better approach than the negative top positions I hacked together? In any event, it seems to function...and it's not flash (which sucks). Saw "A Scanner Darkly" this afternoon. It wasn't really what I expected (not having read it), but I completely enjoyed it. The good: It's druggy and trippy and visually beautiful and really smart and funny at times. The bad: Sometimes slow, sometimes poorly acted, and, tho I hate to admit it, sometimes too disjointed for my tastes. I already think I need to see it again, if only for the Yorke/Radiohead score and the swell sounds.