Friday, May 13, 2011

How To Update Dropbox on Linux

I keep forgetting how to do this... so am posting to myself.

To update to the latest dropboxd:

In your $HOME dir:

mv .dropbox-dist .dropbox-dist.old

/usr/bin/dropbox start -i

This should open a download dialog to get the latest version, install and start it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Spaces Inbetween

There seems to me to be a growing disparity between the music industry and the people creating music.

There are now more people making better music than ever before due to the number of tools being available and the general accessibility of multitrack recording software/sequencers/looping.  Further, we now have global distribution available to us at our desktop.  No longer are we forced into signing record contracts to get access to either studios or distribution or anything... anyone can do it themselves and regularly do.  However, the upper tip of the music industry pyramid is still chugging away using the same old models.

In fact, it seems that the separation is expanding. The hits machine is staying the same or shrinking while the base is growing. While it may be difficult to pick up if you just listen to mainstream music, I think it is clear that there is more music being generated today than every before and much of that is completely separate from the Music Industry Inc.

My theory is that eventually it will just usurp the Music Industry entirely - and probably when least expect it (ie. soon).  Once enough music is being generated outside of the Machine that is of high enough quality and is easier to access than the music being provided by the Machine - we'll just start buying direct.

You want some examples? How about AOL? It used to make sense for a large group of people to use a service to get them access to online sites.  It also made sense for those sites online to engage with AOL to provide access via their services. Eventually we all grew up, Google came along to provide good search and voila - we all could directly access the Internet without having a filter.

On a similar though different slant, I expect the same will happen with a lot of things. Seems a somewhat similar disconnect is happening in finance as we have the lower portion of the pyramid of incomes financing the multi gajillionaires and huge banks at the top via mutual funds and investments (and tax funded bailouts, but I digress).  Eventually us suckers in the middle & lower class will be either a) broke or b) wise enough to see that our money is going directly into the money clips of a few and the party will be over for the top.

How about politics? There is currently a complete disconnect between the top and general public.  I mean, its clear that the vast majority of the population is either not in agreement with the leaders or is not at all interested in what is going on. Look at the Tea Party.  Not that I agree with their politics, but you have to admit that they are a huge grassroots movement in the States.  If only us in the silent liberal types could organize.... but that would mean I'd have to put down my bottle of wine. Perhaps next week ;-)  Again, I digress....

Ah, perhaps this is all wishful thinking.  Perhaps it has always been this way and always will be.

There is no progress or future point when we win, its just an mirage created to keep us all moving forward.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dabbling in the Visual Arts

Though I love the visual arts, I've never been much to do anything myself.  I'm a terrible painter/drawer - perhaps that is why I never explored it. Though, I have always had interest in photography etc.

Anyway, I took a few pics on the weekend and GIMP'd them up.

I'm not claiming to be an artist or that I put much time into them, but I thought they were interesting.  Might use them to brighten up my office or the studio.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Roger Waters - The Wall

Thanks to my buddy Lee, I had the opportunity to go see Roger Waters - The Wall on Saturday in Vancouver (Rogers Arena) and, as expected, it was fantastic.

First, a bit of background to give context on my perspective.  I've been a huge Pink Floyd fan for about 25-30 years now, own pretty much every album (still short Atom Heart Mother and Obscured by Clouds) including a bunch of unreleased/bootleg stuff, have watched The Wall the movie numerous times, read books etc on the band and their albums/tours etc, and listened to The Wall album more times than I can count.  While my 'fandom' has waned a bit in the last few years, it is mostly because I'm just so familiar with the music that there is not much 'new' I can get out of it.  Also, I've seen Pink Floyd live 3 times (Momentary Lapse of Judgement once and Division Bell twice) and Roger Waters (DSOTM) once.

I had also read about and seen pictures/footage of the original Wall tour in 1980, so  I had a pretty good idea of what to expect; however, that is _not_ to say that I wasn't looking forward to this concert.  It was more just a shock that I was _actually_ going to see this concert.  After the acrimonious split up and the subsequent lawsuit(s), after the public barbs from Roger that David G. was just 'flogging' the PF name to make money, after numerous times hearing PF folks say that doing another Wall tour just wouldn't happen/wasn't economical - here I was, going to see it.

The concert itself (detailed here) was really flawless. Musically it sounded great - the musicians were fantastic (especially  Snowy White), though I really missed David Gilmour.  Robbie Wyckoff covered Dave's vocal parts while Dave Kilminster covered most of the guitar parts.  Robbie was all right and Dave K definitely has the chops to play Dave G's solo (in fact most were pretty much note for note) but I kind of wish Snowy had taken on a bit more of the guitar work.  I find (as I did during Roger's DSOTM tour in 2007) that Kilminster is technically a fantastic guitarist and definitely does Gilmour's solo's justice; however Snowy's guitar work has much more life and soul. So, while Kilminster's solos probably sound a lot closer to the Gilmour originals, I think Snowy's come closer to matching the life/feeling of the solos while not necessarily matching them note for note.

Either way, I'm nitpicking - the concert was fantastic.  And ultimately, you just aren't replacing Dave Gilmour (or Rick Wright (RIP) or even Nick for that matter).

I believe the show also had a bit more political overtones than the original with many of the illustrations/content containing digs at capitalism, government, war etc etc.  These are all sermons that Roger has preached for years/decades, but really strike a chord today as so many of his topics are very current:  unbridled capitalism -> financial collapse/global recession, greedy corporations, unending wars, fear peddling, widespread suffering. So, with minor updates/tweaking of the message,  The Wall still works.

In fact, I was a little surprised at how well it actually did work.  I  went in thinking it would be just a wall with Gerald Scarfe and other animations projected on it - but, it really was much more than that.  The wall offers such a large canvas with so many opportunities/possibilities -  it is really an interesting artistic environment.  It serves as a massive display for projecting all of Roger's ideas, concepts, fears and opinions, a backdrop for the giant Scarfe inflatable characters, Roger's living room in Nobody's Home, and obviously, even on its own it still represents and embodies all the symbolism of isolation and hints of authoritarianism that it always did.   It was interesting to see the possibilities of what can be done when you combine more than just music and video - but also add animation, art, performance, political opinion...

Anyway, enough talk.  Here are the thumbnails - the full size pics are better:

My View
So ya, thought ya might like to go to the show
The Wall
Intermission already??
There's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me
'cause if they catch you in the backseat trying to pick her locks
they're going to send you back to mother in a cardboard box
Waiting for the worms
The way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother....
Tear Down the Wall
Tear Down the Wall

Friday, August 6, 2010

Drupal Login Silently Fails

Just a quick note on a fix if you happen to be experiencing a problem logging into a Drupal site.

The behavior is the login seems to silently fail.  No error message, no log messages, nothing.  Login/password is accepted (and bad passwords will fail - so it is hitting the db properly), but after submitting you are returned to the front page not logged in.

I solved the issue by checking the cookie_domain setting in the settings.php file.  The domain name is parsed from the $_SERVER['HPPT_HOST'] php variable using some regex.  If this is done incorrectly, the wrong domain will be set in the php session.cookie_domain variable which will prevent logins.  To fix, you can hard set the $domain variable in the settings.php file.  There are notes on this in the settings.php file, but it is a little obscure.

Friday, July 30, 2010

What a Fantastic Place To Be

I'm not sure it gets any better than this.

Sitting here on my deck, a beautiful July Kelowna night - about 24 degrees outside and its midnight.

It is truly fantastic. Family, friends, music, a drink in my hand...

The title of this post is in reference to my favorite song of all time, a fairly obscure song by The Rhinos. Every time I hear that song, it reminds me of exactly how I feel right now.

Right now is truly a fantastic place to be.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Linux Audio Production Software Stack

When I first started poking around for audio production software in Linux, I must say, my hopes were not high.  I assumed there would be the odd bits of clunky software available - but nothing that would be useful for my needs.  Was I wrong!

From software synths (Qsynth / Fluidsynth, ZynAddSubFX) to guitar processors (Rakarrack), to audio editors (Audacity), to drum sequencers (Hydrogen), full blown midi sequencers (Rosegarden, Seq24, Muse), Digital Audio Workstation/multitrack recording software (Ardour), to mastering software (JAMin) - Linux is overflowing with great quality audio production software.

And what's more, they all tie together with an audio system called Jack.  Jack works as a real time, low latency audio patch system to connect any jack aware hardware and software together - however you want. As with any recording system, latency is a huge concern, so ensuring that any 'handling' of the audio is done as efficiently and quickly is vital - this is Jack's job.

I could really spend a full post talking about each of the pieces of software I listed, and I just might do that...

And as usual, the Linux community has prebuilt a few distros with multimedia creation and editing in mind.  I chose Ubuntu Studio for my distribution.  It comes prebuilt/preconfigured with many of the applications I listed above - and any others are usually just a apt-get install away.  Further it comes with the real time kernel (RT) as default - something that you will need to run if you want low latency/overrun free audio recording.

There definitely was a few hoops I had to jump through to get everything up and running (setting of a few processor priorities etc) - I'll discuss those in a later post, but from unboxing my computer (with no OS) to running audio applications under UbuntuStudio took me under 30 minutes.

Did I mention I love Linux?

Here's a screenshot of my desktop running Hydrogen drum sequencer, Qsynth and Jack. (click for full size)...