More music

My mixing fun continues, and I am starting to develop a fan base, which is just delightful. The second one is A Rolling Sanctuary, and I have a third nearly planned out enough to record.

I also found a fun mashup last weekend, and the third mix will include my first small steps in that direction, overlaying a vocal track from 2000’s Bullet in the Gun on top of Tritonal’s new Apex.

One of my favorite finds for the third mix was a new electro house remix of a favorite old trance song, As the Rush Comes by Motorcycle. Hopefully I will get it recorded and posted this week.

Let’s talk about music?

I really haven’t been thinking of things to share on a blog lately, as can be seen by the length of time from the last post. Most of my online interactions are happening other places, like Facebook. But recently I dove into a new hobby (or expanded a longstanding passion, depending on how you look at it). Rather than just listening to and collecting tons of music, I have finally realized that I can curate and mix it and share it with other people, both online, and live. I have been having a tremendous amount of fun gathering tools and building skills in that direction, and this blog seems like it might be a good outlet for some of the discoveries.

To start with, Traktor for mixing is fantastic! At first I was a bit put off by its interface, but the power in there is worth getting used to it, and the choices the designers made do work well once you understand them. And especially when you pair the software with their amazing hardware controllers.

The edge of the new kitchen will be a perfect place to mix during parties.

Last Monday I finally recorded a mix, while I was working off some stress, and I am really pleased with how it came out. And today I found what looks like an ideal way to share mixes with the world, ensuring the original artists of the underlying songs get their full credit and royalties. So you can now find A Concrete Abacus on Mixcloud.

When you put it that way…

Somehow Locke and Demosthenes seemed a lot more plausible when I read Ender’s Game in the ’80s as a teenager!

Hitchhiker’s Guide Jackpot

I’ve been undertaking a project this summer to replace the lost or stolen media which has left gaps in my library from the years before I started tracking loans using Delicious Library. As part of that I decided to tackle the two 120 minute cassettes I had made in Mexico City from the condensed record album versions of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. They were my first exposure to the series, and remained my favorite incarnation of it—pressed in England,  borrowed from the library of my British school, dubbed on my dad’s stereo, and lovingly hand-labeled… Then loaned to someone while I was in graduate school in Madison, and that someone evidently moved away with them, and I forgot who it had been.

Of course, they are nowhere to be found in today’s media landscape. But I did find a BBC set of 14 CDs containing the full original radio plays from which the albums had been condensed. I’ve just started listening to them, and much to my delight, they are clearly the raw material for the “Reader’s Digest” version I had previously loved. I am having a blast listening to them. And obviously I will have to rip them into audio book format so they can move in to my iPhone.

Hurrah!

Reunited at last, better than ever!

Reunited at last, better than ever!

Echoes of Joe

Over this past week I finally “moved into” the new bookshelf I picked up this spring, which involved sorting all our books to get everything in order. Now there are finally no crazy book piles all over the house, nor books stacked two thick or on top of each other on the shelves. It’s great, I can find everything easily.

And I found a bunch of neat old Joe stuff, including essays of his, things he had published, and letters he saved. Going through that section took a long time, and was bittersweet, although these days I am successfully focusing more on the sweet side.

I’ll be posting some of the items that I think people will find interesting, and sharing some of the more private stuff over email.

Here’s a letter he had published in the newsletter of the American Diabetes Association shortly before I met him. Since it’s a scanned image of an 8½×11 magazine page, I’m just linking to it rather than trying to cram it into the blog posting. I will include the head shot that was on the page, though:

Joe in print in 1990

Joe in print in 1990

There will be more to come…

A Neat Connection

I follow Ola Bini’s blog because he often has interesting things to say which appeal to my sensibilities as an incurable programming language geek, and I had fun hearing his ideas in person at Java One “Birds of a Feather” sessions on generics and compiler features while they were being hashed out a few years ago. So I was amused to note his recent invitation to a Thoughtworks seminar at Berns in Stockholm. That was the lovely hotel where Joe and I stayed at the end of our final cruise together, when my parents flew out to spend a few days with us enjoying Stockholm and the surrounding area, and visiting the houses where I used to live as a very young boy.

I won’t be able to make it there for these talks, but it would certainly be fun if I could.

Promise of Spring

A few weekends ago, back when spring seemed imminent and the ice on Lake Monona was breaking up, I walked around the bay and snapped a few photos. I finally got around to uploading them, and you can find them on my Mobile Me page. They’re nothing spectacular, I just had my point-and-shoot and an enthusiasm for spring. And I do hope it will return soon!

You Spin Me Off…

…Like a Record, Baby? (Apologies to Dead or Alive!)

Facebook has become so cluttered with the latest site redesign that it’s pretty much useless for expressing anything other than vapid, passing thoughts. So maybe the silver lining is that it will motivate me to post more on Arcadia. Like this week’s really big news:

My team, the creators of communication-related network software, formerly an odd part of Berbee Information Networks, and lately an even more poorly-understood part of CDW Corporation, has spun off to create our own company, Singlewire Software. (Yes, the press releases went out on April 1, but no, it’s not a joke.)

Read more »

Past the Curse?

It was back in November that I whined about a whole bunch of things going wrong with my tech, all at once. Well, I have finally replaced the last failed item, since my Nehalem Xeon powered Mac Pro shipped a week and a half earlier than Apple promised, and I have it set up and migrated.

Engadget has posted a bunch of nice unboxing shots, so I don’t have to. I will however show a nice touch I found when installing the troublesome Blu-Ray drive that failed so miserably in the dual G5 machine this one replaces. Since the new machine uses SATA for its optical bays I can now hook up the drive directly, without the flimsily-attached bundled ATAPI adapter, which seemed mostly good for causing kernel panics. (The bay also has two slots, so I can leave Apple’s SuperDrive in place when adding the Blu-Ray drive). I quickly realized I was going to need some screws to attach the drive, but before I could start tearing apart my closet in the faint hope that my miscellaneous-server-parts box might contain some that would work, I noticed that Apple had thought of this and taken care of me.

Not only does the mounting tray pop out to make it easy to attach the optical drives, but Apple supplies an extra set of screws for when you want to use the second bay:

Optical drive bay from Mac Pro showing spare screws

Optical drive tray from Mac Pro showing spare screws.

I’ve highlighted the location of the spare screws, and the one I’d already used to start attaching the Blu-Ray drive. A most thoughtful and civilized solution!

Installing the second SATA hard drive for Time Machine was almost insanely easy, as you’ve no doubt read elsewhere. I thought my previous G5 case made drive installation almost as easy as possible, but this was significantly easier.

I am happy to report that the Toast Blu-Ray encoder does make good use of multiple threads, as can be seen in this screen shot:

Activity Monitor windows while Toast encodes a Blu-Ray disc

Activity Monitor windows while Toast encodes a Blu-Ray disc.

I still can’t get over the processor activity window with its sixteen bar graphs—two for each core, since hyperthreading allows two simultaneous threads per core.

I had to rearrange the room a little, since the new LED Cinema Display shipped with noticeably shorter cables than my previous display (perhaps because it was originally aimed at MacBook users, but still somewhat disappointing). The extravagant amount of screen space was worth it, though.

The new arrangement of my desktop to accommodate both displays

The new arrangement of my desktop to accommodate both displays.

After almost a week of getting settled and experimenting, I can confirm that this machine is a joy to use, and a most worthy replacement for the one whose motherboard died. And I’m also happy to report that the old dual G5 has an excited new owner as of this morning: a graphic designer who was expecting to repair her much slower and older machine, and who will be able to make great use of it.

Understanding the AIG Scandal

Like most people, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been going on with the US financial system, and where we are headed. Triangulating between The Economist and The Nation, I look for plausible truths. Last week I found a posting on fivethirgtyeight.com that filled in many important factual and analytical details for me. I got such good feedback from friends I shared it with that I decided to add a “Politics” category to Arcadia and share it more widely.

So take a look at Nate Silver’s excellent article. Some of the comments are quite interesting too.

And, of course, the raw facts of this case are not the only important thing. Glenn Greenwald is another blogger I find very insightful, especially when it comes to exactly what is wrong with our political establishment and the captive media that enables and abets it. He recently wrote about how appropriate—and in fact overdue—is the public rage over the “bonus payments.” Read it here.

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