Computing


So first a little housekeeping. Sorry I’ve been a little lax on posting things here. Been busy and, besides, microblogging (see Twitter feed) is more up my alley (haiku is my favorite poetry form). On the subject of music, which this post will concern itself with, I should point out a few things:

  • My radio show isn’t dead, just been busy. That, and I’m waiting on Mixxx to fix the bug with my microphone so I can use voice over. But that’s really an excuse. I’ve been planning on doing another show, for weeks. So I have lots of fodder for it. Also been thinking about doing a noise show.
  • This year, my friend Jon 7 aka President Blair who runs the Timetheory netlabel and subsequently released my first noise album as Brownian Motion, started a project called The ERNIE 4 and played a couple local shows. In the spirit of Future Sound Of London’s “ISDN,” we did a little “tour” via Icecast. As the year is drawing to a close, we should be releasing the archives of this year’s tour soon. Keep an eye out.
  • Also keep an eye out for the second Brownian Motion, More Culture Than A Pint Of Probiotics, soon to come from Bleak netlabel.
  • The biggest show The ERNIE 4 had the delight in playing was with noisers from across the country at the 2011 Eugene Noise Fest. It was a lot of fun and we had an opportunity to test out some new equipment which worked out really well. We released the rather short set for free which you can find here.

On that latter point, I had finally decided to put Linux on my G4 Mac. It worked, but I wasn’t totally satisfied. After mucking around with it quite a bit, I realized how I could make an old Thinkpad R60 do the trick. Merely days before. I got Lubuntu, JACK, Pure Data, JACK-Rack, Patchage, and a bunch of LADSPA plugins set up. I brought a contact mic along for fun. The flexibility it offered, especially via Jack, was awesome. Best of all, Patchage made virtual cabling super easy. I was able to run multiple inputs any which way I want. Through this process, I got Jon interested in pd and he used it, too.

The more I contemplated this the more excited I got: I had a completely free system. By this I mean not that I got the computer without cost (this is not about money), but that my entire set up, down to the operating system, was entirely open source. Free for anyone to investigate, distribute and modify. Why is this important?

There’s a reason why I’m so adamant about Creative Commons licensing with my work (including my radio show). It’s the same reason why I’m so adamant about using freeware. I don’t believe information should be “owned.” It’s like Monsanto trying to patent DNA. There is only one goal from this– greed. Music should be about your passion to make it. Not greed. If you want to be greedy, go be an investment banker. I do believe that artists deserve recognition for their works and I do believe that artists have the right to profit from their works, even make lots of money from them. When you make it only about profit, however, then you are, in my opinion, not art, you are simply another commercial juggernaut. Go make jingles for McDonald’s.

There is that phrase: if you love something, set it free.

Meanwhile, I became a member of Hal McGee‘s Contact Group of Homemade Experimental Electronic Music and Noise on Facebook. I missed an option to add a track to his recent compilation series of 60 second tracks. In the process of discussing this and lamenting that there were some missed opportunities, it was brought up that the group was about the free change of ideas, not about the compilation. The gauntlet was thrown down.

So I picked it up and offered an idea of my own: a free electronics compilation. Made with free software, distributed in a free format, with a free license, offered through a free host, and released for free. By all of those except the latter, I meant free as in speech, not beer (i.e. not about money). This led to some lively discussion and ultimately some decisions were made:

  • Contributions are open. Anyone, Contact Group member or not, can contribute.
  • There are no limits on genre or genres. Doesn’t just have to be noise.
  • There are no limits on time. Doesn’t have to be 60 seconds. It can be. Doesn’t have to.
  • Deadline is January 1. February 1.
  • Release will be offered through Bandcamp (technically not free, but their API is freely available). Reason is that we can offer it for “name your own price”which means it’s free as in beer if you want it to be, but if you want to contribute, great. The money will be equally split between all the software projects used.
  • More specifically, it will be released on my own Bandcamp page under the “Brownian eMotions” label. Cuz it’s funny.
  • Must use free software.
  • Must use a free format. MP3 is not free and, besides, we need lossless to make Bandcamp work. I highly recommend FLAC because it is free and lossless and compressed, which makes distribution easier. Other alternatives are WAV and AIFF, but they were originally proprietary formats developed by IBM/Microsoft and Apple, respectively. In general, these should not have licenses or patents, but there are some patents on some extensions, so it may be difficult to be certain that you’re using a free version. FLAC is definitively free.
  • Contributions can be made available any which way you want: file sharing services, email, etc. Leave a comment here with how you’d like to do it and I’ll email you back with the necessary information.
  • Remember, this is free as in speech. Open source. We’re not talking about price. If you stole Fruityloops off of some Torrent site, that’s not the free we’re talking about.
  • It is highly preferable, but not necessary, to use a free operating system. Windows and OS X are not free.
  • Also preferable, but not necessary, is the use of open source hardware. If you want to use your guitar, go for it. But if you want to make an electronics project out of this, knock yourself out.
  • For many people, this will be a dramatic change. It’s meant to challenge you. Try something new. I WILL be happy to answer technical questions.
  • All tracks will be licensed with a by-nc-sa license which allows users to remix and share the track given that re-use or re-distribution is non-commercial, that the original is attributed, and that the new work or distribution is similarly licensed.

That being said, we already have some takers. As I hear from more people I will add them to this list. Here goes:

  1. Travis Johnson (track received)
  2. Jack Hertz
  3. Nuno Maltez
  4. Ronny Wærnes (track received)
  5. Post-Avantist (track received)
  6. Herv
  7. Halluciphile (track received)
  8. Antiquematter
  9. President Blair (track received)
  10. The Cheshire Dragon (track received)
  11. Centrescape
  12. Ganglion Cyst (track received)
  13. Hobo Liked Gnomix (track received)
  14. hiyohiyoipseniyo (track received)
  15. Astrometria (track received)
  16. Hollywood Video Game Kill-Bot (track received)
  17. d0x10 (track received)
  18. Lackthrow
  19. RJ Myato
  20. I Died (track received)
  21. John Dunlap (track received)
  22. Nick Bailey (track received)
  23. Elizabeth Veldon (track received)
  24. Pulsewidth (track received)
  25. Carl Kruger (track received)
  26. Somnaphon (track received)
  27. The Implicit Order (track received)
  28. Shaun Sandor (track received)
  29. Marax (track received)
  30. The Last Thing I Said To You Was (track received)
  31. Loopool (track received)
  32. noish (track received)
  33. Jukka-Pekka Kervinen (track received)
  34. Arvo Zylo (track received)
  35. Brownian Motion (track received)
  36. The ERNIE 4 (track received)
  37. Precocious Mouse

So get out there, make some noise, and spread the word. Bonus points if your piece is on the subject of freedom :)

P.S. This post has been done by email so if it sucks, blame WordPress. :)

Update 29 December 2011: make sure to read the comments for some further clarifications.

Update 2 February 2012: A few loose ends left in bold. Revised to include all previous candidate contributors. I struckout the ones who either I lost contact with or who said that for whatever reason they couldn’t contribute. This is mostly for my own desire to document. There may be a volume 2 and 3… Meanwhile, expect this out relatively soon. I’m aiming for mid-February, probably consistent with the release of the new Brownian Motion.

Update 14 Febuary 2012: Come get it!

Windows 7 64 bit on PPC OS XIf this picture doesn’t make sense, it’s my 32-bit PPC Mac running near-native speeds on an Intel virtual machine of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit through the Internet. If the reason or the methodology isn’t apparent, read on. (more…)

meebo2.so in finchLook, I’m still alive! Been busy with work/family/geeking out.

On that latter subject, I’ve been regressing to some degree, running my instant messaging/IRC, email, and tweets off of a free Debian shell in Germany called the Nic Nac Project. I’ve been using finch aka gaim-text (the ncurses-based version of Pidgin), alpine, and twidge, respectively to handle these tasks and using tmux to manage windows (though there is one IRC server I connect to that only has open port 6667 which NNP’s ISP blocks, so I have to ssh into another free shell and use irssi from there to connect). Technically, I could create an SSH Tunnel and VNC in or use X11 Forwarding and run everything off of the more traditional fluxbox-based desktop but it’s s-l-o-w, and ANSI was good enough for a long time for me (though now I demand UTF-8).

Overall it has been working quite well, except for two things:

  1. when using PuTTY as a terminal it doesn’t handle line drawing characters correctly when using UTF-8 translation so finch winows and tmux windows look all messed up. Unfortunately their approach to dealing with bugs is not necessarily friendly. I’m guessing this is a lost cause then.
  2. constant authorization requests from MeeboMe (I can’t believe people still check my blog even though I haven’t touched it in so long!) which I couldn’t fix with the old plugin.

Luckily, the friendly folks at #pidgin on Freenode came to the rescue. Apparently, one of them had taken that old plugin and ran with it. I am happy to report that it works marvelously with Finch 2.6.6 running Debian Lenny. Unfortunately, it takes a few steps:

  1. download the source for Pidgin
  2. untar if necessary and cd inside the source directory
  3. type ./configure (note you will probably need to use a lot of –disable flags; I did ./configure –disable-gtkui –disable-gstreamer –disable-vv –disable-meanwhile –disable-avahi –disable-nm –disable-tcl)
  4. download the plugin
  5. mv the plugin into the source’s pidgin/libpurple/plugins directory
  6. type make meebo2.so
  7. mv the finished plugin (meebo2.so) into your own plugins directory (I use ~/.purple/plugins for one’s I’ve made myself)
  8. It should pop up in finch’s plugins dialog– just click the checkbox and you’re set

Hopefully this puts your mind at ease as it did mine.

The wrong dessert to get me for my birthday: Bacon Burger Pie

The wrong dessert to get me for my birthday: Bacon Burger Pie

Yep, it’s my birthday tomorrow (thanks for the early wishes, everyone!). My honey ain’t feeling too hot so I probably won’t have a cake, so if you want to stop at Sweet Life and grab a Vegan Tiramisu or something, that would be cool. While you’re at it, a Vegan Chef’s Choice from Pizza Research Institute and some Oakshire beer, maybe the Vit or Duck Billed Platypus or the Ill Tempered Gnome, would go down quite well, too.

If you really want to splurge, get me a gift certificate at Best Buy (I probably would have said Frys but they’re not local and I’ve already got some old gift certificates at Best Buy). I can use it to get another external hard drive for the music, pictures and video. A print server would be nice, too. We could also use a couple extra Wii MotionPlus remotes for when the visitors come and want to gang up on New Super Mario Bros. Wii! :D

<geek>Not to mention the fact that it would be nice to get another Linksys WRT160Nv3 router in case I happen to render mine useless trying to flash an Open Source firmware called Tomato USB onto it. After SimplifyMedia made me mad and gave up the ghost, I’ve been trying to find a good solution to accessing my files from abroad. Maestro.fm crashes and has literally no support. Remobo– is just plain weird and looks like it will have issues with firewalls. This lead me to virtual private network solutions. Hamachi would be GREAT but there’s no support for anything but Windows (ew!) anymore. There was Viscosity but I didn’t feel like spending money for it.

So that lead me to OpenVPN solutions. Tunnelblick held some promise but it was going to take me forever to figure out how to configure the thing (I have a couple BOOKS now on the subject) and then I wasn’t sure it would work with a Bonjour-based service like iTunes Home Sharing. Looking for other options, I stumbled across a few different Open Source firmwares like dd-wrt and the original Tomato, complete with built in OpenVPN server. Now it’s just a matter of implementation but I’ve been a bit nervous without a backup option. So, yeah, that would be cool. I can always return it if all goes well.</geek>

But in all honesty, I don’t need any presents or surprises. I can’t complain. Even if I got nothing, I got a great wife who I am so proud of for going back to school to persue her dream (art) and constantly and delightfully surprised by for gaining new interests (biology) and who is just the best friend I could ever have (tandem kayaking and whale watching last weekend was fabulous!). I also got a remarkable little daughter who could out-swim me any day, who’s excelling reading standards and who continues to challenge and astound me every day.

Besides, I’m a geek. I don’t ever get bored, so it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself if you don’t get any presents or no one remembers your birthday. :D Not like I have that to worry about…

As you can see, outside of adding Twitter support (anyone see those commercials about how no one knows what Twitter is?), another exciting feature we have to look forward to with the 1.4 version (codename: King Eider, which you see pictured here) of Adium is IRC support, at long last.  Set your copy to update to beta version when available (under the General tab) and run a check and you’ll be on your way to enjoying this with 1.4b1.

I’ve been waiting for this, so I’ve been sort of neglecting the BF IRC channel.  Today I discovered I’m having some difficulty connecting to the usual irchat.tv server so I’m moving everything over to Freenode.  There’s a handy dandy little Java client that will get you there via any browser or use server irc.freenode.net, port 6667, and channel #bikefriday.  This may be a good way to say hi as I have been REALLY busy– which is why I haven’t yet (sorry) posted up the story about the stolen bike.  All in good time!

For various reasons, some of which I’ll expound on for the Mac geeks out there, the Bike Friday IRC channel I began so many moons ago is back again.  If you have questions about the bikes or service or just want to chat, this (I hope) will provide a good forum for some live interaction.  Heck, maybe one day I can get the rest of Bike Friday entered into the computer age and we can ALL contribute.  Meanwhile, you got me and whoever else might be there though it’s been pretty empty as of late (read: I’m lonely, come visit).

If you’re not familiar with IRC and your browser is set up to allow JavaScript (most modern ones are– unless you’ve disabled access), clicking here should take you right into the IRC channel or chat room if you prefer.  Before opening your digital mouth, you might first want to make a name for yourself, which you can do by typing /nick name where name is whatever you want your name to be.  Make sure you don’t have any spaces in it.  And don’t forget the forward slash.  Then just type away.  An example is pictured here for your convenience.

Another easy way for anyone to connect regardless of operating system is by using the ChatZilla plugin for Mozilla browsers (e.g. SeaMonkey, Firefox).  The install link is at the bottom.  Once there, just click here.

The more hardcore IRC’er will probably want a dedicated client.  It’s also nice to not have to have your browser open to do IRC.  I can’t help the Windoze folks out there but Wikipedia can.  *nix folks will appreciate my final solution for the Mac was Terminal-based.  Read on.

I once proclaimed an appreciation for Colloquy but have since rescinded that appreciation.  It’s just too darn buggy.  Conversation is worse (could have to do with the fact that the last release is from 2005).  Not many freeware options.  Linkinus was nice but $20 which seemed a bit more than what I wanted to spend for what it could do. 

And then they came out with some free licenses.  Well I got spoiled by a lot of features included one that would leave me on even with the application off.  That was simply too cool.  And then they came out with a new version and I did the automatic update which was incompatible with my license (I did know better at the time), which then became unusable.  I tried to get them to help me re-install the old licensed version but I have received no response and now I’m very glad I never gave them a dime.  They don’t deserve it.

I looked into a million options, especially one that would allow me to always stay connected.  The more I looked into it the more I saw Mac guys mentioned using irssi+screen.  Irssi is one of the best Terminal-based IRC clients out there.  Screen allows you to stay connected not only when the program you’re running in it is closed but also when Terminal itself is closed!

I did this for a while and was really happy with it but then I started exploring other ports on MacPorts and found weechat.  It had some features about it that won me over, like a nicklist that worked (irssi’s nicklist.pl script sucks), the ability to split windows vertically and horizontally and lots of other little things.  I had to play with it a bit to get it where I wanted (including making a 2-line Perl script to automatically create my split windows) but now it loads up just the way I want it to.

So it’s pretty easy to get this running with MacPorts.  Make sure you’re in an admin account in terminal (use login as needed) and then issue a sudo port install +perl.  MacPorts will add on all the dependent programs you need to get it running and verify the configuration.  It’s awesome.  As a slight tangent, I consider this essential if you’re going to use any *nix programs since the ports are built specifically for Darwin.  Anyways, the +perl isn’t necessary but recommended if you want to add on any additional functionality.  This is how my auto-split window script works.

What I’m really excited about though is the possibility of Growl notifications.  The idea of weechat+screen+growl has me ELATED!  Think about it:  with no Terminal running, you get notifications when things you want to know happen!  However, the growl-notify.pl script requires (sensibly so) Mac::Growl which for some reason I can’t get working due to dependencies I can’t get working for some reason, which I think is related to Mac::MoreFiles which I can’t seem to get going (Mac::Growl is looking for it).  I’m in touch with the developer of the script as well as introducing a bug report to Mac::Growl, so we’ll see what happens.

Anyways, however you get on IRC, get on there and let’s talk bikes!

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For all you Mac geeks out there, this is a major upgrade to the best multi-platform instant messaging client on the market.  Did I mention it was free?  So you get tabbed browsing and it can handle just about every single instant messaging protocol on the market (though it still seems to have trouble with MySpaceIM) plus a lot of other features.  Unlike its Windows cousin, Pidgin, it doesn’t (yet) handle IRC but eventually it ought to handle that.  They’ve also been working on adding Skype, Gizmo, audio/video chats and who knows what else.

There’s a particular development that’s very exciting for this blog.  See that "say hello" box over to the right?  That’s a widget connected to my meebo account.  Since meebo uses a Jabber protocol, it’s no problem adding it to Adium.  So I can get/send messages from/to my blog very easily this way.  The problem lies in that previously you would not be able to see me online– usually, at least.  See, I’d get this annoying dialog box initiated by loading the page that would ask me if I wanted to allow the new contact to message me and if I wanted to add them to my contact list.  I did want the former but not the latter because the contact was only good as long as the page was up.  Then the contact was useless.  I got into the habit, especially as page loads were high, of just closing the dialog, at the cost of communication.

So what does the new Adium do for me here?  It allows me an option to auto-allow (different from auto-allow and add).  So now, when I’m online, you see me online.  So feel free to chat away.  Talk to me about your experiences with Leopard, ask me about the new Model T, inquire about Sierra’s Christmas performance (pix/videos coming), tell me your top 10 fave albums for 2007 (mine’s coming soon), or request Christina’s special vegan cheeseball recipe.  Whatever your need to chat, feel free.  Thanks to Adium it’ll be nice and easy.

UPDATE 1/9/8: I got a little trigger happy there, actually.  Though the feature was there, it turns out it was broken.  But those darn Adium devs are so responsive, after posting a crash report and some other tests to the forum, they had a fix up and ready to go.  Admittedly, this is not officially yet 1.2.1 but that’s where the fix will be released.  Until then, you can build from source.  You need Subversion (part of Leopard now!) and Xcode installed.  Once you got that, here’s what you want to do in Terminal:
svn co svn://svn.adiumx.com/adium/trunk adium
cd adium
make

Now under ~/adium/build/Deployment-Debug is the Adium.app you need to run.  It will pick up on all your old accounts and preferences and stuff, so find it in Finder, double click and you’ll be on your way. 

UPDATE 1/18/8: 1.2.1 is out which fixes the aforementioned problem as well as some minor and not so minor things, like not always accepting Google Talk certificate checks, a few memory leaks, and a decreased memory footprint!

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