So what’s going on with me right now? Let’s see…
fluffy rambles (Music)
Rambles that are fluffy, by fluffy
Just a random check-in entry for folks to know what’s going on with me. Because that seems to be all that my blog is good for, all in all.
Recently someone at Qrates reached out to me and was enthusiastic about the idea of me giving it another try, and since Lo-Fi Beats to Grind Coffee To has somewhat broader appeal, I decided to give it another shot.
So, if you would be so kind as to visit the Qrates crowdfunding page and maybe even consider buying a copy or two or ten, it would be greatly appreciated.
So, within a day of the Bandcamp announcement, several folks had already started building their own tools for escaping from Bandcamp. Of particular note (and brought to my attention many times) is one called blamscamp, which is a web-based GUI that builds a web player bundle for itch.io.
This tool definitely has a lot of merit, but in the near term it only handles one specific use case, namely taking a collection of already-encoded-for-the-web mp3s and turning it into an itch previewer. The player itself is nicely-written, but this isn’t the sort of tool which works well for me.
So, I adapted the player engine into my own version, which is a CLI tool. Feed it a JSON spec, audio files, and ancillary data (album art and lyrics and such), and it automatically encodes and tags the album for MP3 preview, high-quality MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC, and builds a web player (based on the original blamscamp’s although it’s diverged quite a lot now). And, if you install butler, it can also automatically upload these bundles to your itch page!
Here is the first public demo of it.
With all that said, I do still intend to keep using Bandcamp as my primary music distribution platform; it’s been very good to me over the years, and just because they’re being bought out by a questionable company doesn’t mean it’ll actually go downhill. But diversifying my offerings is always a good thing, and by posting my music in both places, I get even more of a potential audience. Plus, the satisfaction of owning (a big part of) my own delivery pipeline.
The pyBlamscamp pipeline can also be adapted to anything that takes a bundle of files; it could also be used, for example, to simplify the process of posting albums on Gumroad.
At present the main difficulties of it are that it’s a Python application and that it relies on external encoders. One of my potential change sin the future is to have it self-host the encoder libraries which would make a lot of things easier, and would also make it more feasible to provide a stand-alone application.
It’d also be really handy to have tools that make it easier to create and edit the .json file. That’s definitely a rough edge that’s not suitable for general end users.
There’s also a heck of a lot of things that still need to be done even for my own uses. But for now, this tool is at least ready to get started with.
My ongoing anxiety regarding recording studio computer stuff has continued. Yesterday while doing day 1 of Novembeat I found that my 2016 MacBook pro is still just like… way too slow to make music on (especially if I stream at the same time). And then I saw that there’s a bunch of deals on 2020 MacBooks happening right now.
I was about to buy a 2020 MacBook Air with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, but then found out that Apple had a deal on refurbished 2020 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD for only a little bit more, and the refurb price is less than the equivalently-equipped MacBook Air’s price. So that’s what I ended up ordering.
For now I’m just going to stick with my 2016 MacBook Pro, and I bought a 27" 4K monitor for it to alleviate the display-size issue.
It’s a little slow and a little janky but a lot of my music stuff still doesn’t work right on M1 anyway, and in particular Native Instruments is taking their sweet time to update everything to be M1-compatible. Also, I could theoretically use my PreSonus FireStudio with the hacked driver, although it looks like that’ll probably stop working in macOS 12 and I can’t use it with my ADAT preamp anyway, so the only advantage to it is I could put my Scarlett 18i8 back in my office, which is a pretty low priority now.
(I suppose I could also make an aggregate interface of the FireStudio with the 18i8+ADAT, but I already have 14 functional inputs as it is and I barely ever use more than 5 of them at a time. 22 is definitely overkill.)
If I get desperate for an upgrade I suppose I could get a current 27" iMac but that doesn’t feel particularly necessary right now (and it also feels like a waste since Apple will stop supporting it sooner rather than later; I went through the exact same thing with the PowerMac G5 that I bought literally two weeks before they announced the Intel transition).
I also need to give both Reaper and Bitwig another shot because both of them seem like they’d be able to mostly replace Logic for me at this point, and I’m sick of being wedded to macOS. (But right now is not the time for me to learn a new DAW. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. I dunno.)
Or maybe I should see what the pre-trashcan Mac Pros are going for. The 12-core model would still be a pretty decent upgrade from the 2016 MacBook pro, and also has the advantage of having upgradeable SATA storage, plus PCIe slots that could theoretically take an NVMe adapter. On the minus side, no Thunderbolt 3 (not that I’d need it) and I’d also be stuck on macOS 10.14 without some sketchy patching. But it looks like they’re going for under $400 (shipping included), all the same.
Or there’s always Hackintosh.
But nah I’ll wait, the old MacBook Pro is fine for now.
My basement studio setup is coming along slowly but surely. I ended up buying a used ADAT preamp to expand my existing audio interface (rather than buying a new interface/patchbay/etc.) and it mostly works great, although I’m going to see if I can hack an S/PDIF decoder into a word clock source for it so that the 18i8 can be master (which makes a couple of things easier to deal with).
For now I’m using my old MacBook as the recording computer. It only has a 500GB drive, though, and I couldn’t find the power adapter for my external HDD enclosure, so I decided to try just running Native Instruments off of my NAS over gigabit Ethernet. Nearly every install failed with a nonsensical “malformed XML document” error, which turns out to be a known issue with attempting to install to a NAS. Oh well. Hopefully that PSU turns up soon. I’m sure it’s in the bottom of whichever box I end up unpacking last.
(The PSU isn’t anything particularly exotic in principle, just a 12V 2A center-positive wallwart, but for some reason all the 12V center-positive wallwarts I can find can’t accommodate its extra-thick center pin.)
But anyway, today I finally got to the point where I could hook up my piano, and so I played piano for the first time since April, which felt nice. I can’t believe I let it be this long. I guess I really thought the backyard shed studio would go a lot more quickly!
I’ve been trying to make music in my small second bedroom/office, but it’s ridiculously constraining in here, and kind of frustrating. My long-term plan is to build a separate studio building in the back yard, but that’s slow-going and there’s a lot of barriers to it, and in the meantime, ever since I upgraded my house’s furnace to a ductless minisplit system, my basement actually seems to have enough space for my recording setup, so I’ve been looking into moving it down there.
Every few years I’ve tried to do an album of my Song Fight! back catalog stuff. In 2009 I released foodsexsleep, in 2011 it was Love and Monsters, and in 2014 was Radio Ready. And then… nothing, for a while.
Many of my albums since then have had one or two Song Fight! songs on it (for example, 2015’s Refactor had two Song Fight! songs on it and one Circle of Titles, and a couple of Novembeat albums picked up some Song Fight! songs that I did as part of Novembeat), but due to a combination of not doing as much for Song Fight! anymore and rethinking a lot about how I made music, I kept on putting off another Song Fight!-heavy album.
Anyway, lately I’ve been getting the itch again, and my most recent entry finally sparked me enough to work on releasing an album while the fire is hot. Plus, I’d been meaning to properly release my covers of “Space Cadet” by Brother Machine and “A Problem of Perspective” by King Arthur for ages, and Charles (of King Arthur) had a recent health scare, so I wanted to release this while he still had a chance to appreciate it!
Hey folks, the Song Fight! Live livefight is happening tonight (just 3 hours after this entry goes live) and I’m going to have a song and video in it. I would greatly appreciate if folks would watch the live stream and vote for the songs they like, in real time! (And hopefully my song will be one of them. As usual I entered as Sockpuppet.)
UPDATE: The livestream link got janked, see the new one above!
My individual set will be posted to the music section after the show. But watch everyone’s stuff and also join in on the chat. It’s a good time.
Still on disability leave, and still in considerable pain. I’m trying not to work too hard on things, but it’s hard not to do things.
For example, I worked on a song with my friends Ken and Huan-Hua for this week’s Song Fight!; we entered the “We Did Everything We Could” fight under the band name Richard Donner Party. It was a fun song to make. Fortunately I didn’t have to even so much as look at a guitar. Most of my work was vocals, light keyboard work, and editing.
Wellp, I managed to screw up my shoulder again. Last time was probably from me using my cane on a fairly long walk, and this time was probably due to me overdoing it with my weed puller (which requires a snapping motion that does similar things to my cane). Bleah. At least this time I know stretches and things that might help, and I found a bunch more which feel like they’re helping. Hopefully I’ll still feel well enough to get my second shot of vaccine tomorrow. (Which will probably have me feeling pretty much immobile for a few days anyway.)
Yesterday I finally got ArrowVortex working; originally I was running it under WINE on my Intel NUC over xrdp to my Mac, which was kind of janky but functional, but after that stopped working (and was too obnoxious with latency) I just tried out Crossover WINE again and it worked like a charm.
Incidentally, Crossover’s gotten way better in the 10 years since I last used it and I might end up paying for it again!
Anyway, you can see the results of this: I have a very much work-in-progress song pack that you can check out if you’re so inclined. Beta feedback is appreciated as well. I’ll be adding artwork eventually but right now my effort is primarily on getting more songs and charts in.
If there’s any songs of mine you think would be a good DDR track, let me know!
I’m fully off the nortriptyline and I haven’t had withdrawal side effects for several days now. On the other hand, my persistent fibro dizziness is back, and when I hit a wall with a pain flare I really feel it. I’d forgotten just how much more intense that was before nortriptyline. (Of course, while on nortriptyline it’s not like the end result was any different so I don’t feel like I’ve made a big mistake getting off of it.)
My pain doc recommended trying low-dose naltrexone, which is something my previous pain doc had scoffed at1, but anyway I’ve sent a message to my GP asking about getting on it, and if she can’t take care of that then maybe my psychiatrist can, or maybe the pain doc can (but unfortunately he’s really busy and appointments with him are booked to well over a month out at this point).
I just upgraded to Native Instruments Komplete 13 Ultimate, which means that I now have redundant licenses for a number of NI products which I’d bought individually while trying to justify not upgrading to Ultimate (spending much more than the upgrade differential in the process, of course). Fortunately, NI makes license transfers really easy.
So, if anyone’s interested in any of the following pieces of software, let me know:
- Retro Machines MK2
- The Mouth
- Session Guitarist - Electric Sunburst
- Session Guitarist - Strummed Acoustic 2
- Session Strings Pro 2
- Symphony Essentials Collection Crossgrade (requires owning Komplete 2-11 or Komplete 8-11 Ultimate)
I also have a license for NI Akoustik Piano which takes some doing to get it to work in a modern environment, but is still pretty darn good. It’s basically the predecessor to the definitive piano collection. (Although honestly the Definitive Piano Collection is well worth the $100 if you’re looking for some virtual pianos, and is my go-to piano selection these days.)
Today the weather cleared up so I finally went hiking for an hour or so. Only one trailhead I could find was open from the Port Angeles side of the forest (most of the roads into the forest were closed due to snow), and when I got there the parking lot was filling up. I wandered around a bit and took a bunch of photos and audio recordings, but quickly found that my camera’s battery did not like the cold (or maybe it’s just getting old and needs to be replaced). According to the trail map I made it maybe a third of the way up before my legs were telling me that I was in no way fit enough to keep going, and then after I turned back I found that the parking lot was overflowing and a whole bunch of people were now on the trail. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
Hopefully tomorrow I can go to a different trailhead but the weather report is saying it’s going to be raining again, so my last day here might be like all the others.
Also I really should have worn thicker socks, as my feet were pretty cold the whole time. If it isn’t raining I’ll definitely bring the thick pair I brought for this very reason.
Hey y'all! Song Fight! Live(stream) has gone really well. A bunch of us learned a lot about live streaming online and I’ve picked up many more tricks for the future. And maybe we’ll be doing more of this stuff!
In the meantime: tonight is going to be the live fight (where people can vote in real time for their favorite new song), and I have a song in it. ANd it starts in about 20 minutes from the time of this post! Please show up and show your support.
It’s actually pretty cool how this whole thing is accessible to everyone in the world (who’s awake at this time, anyway) and not just being limited to people who could physically come, and I hope even post-pandemic we’ll keep doing online events like these.
But anyway. All that said I’m glad this event is soon to be over with: I need some heckin' sleep tonight. (And I start my new job tomorrow!)
Every year, Song Fight! does a live show where a bunch of folks come from all around the world to perform for a couple of nights. Of course, because of current events this year’s show had to get canceled.
But this was the 20th year, so we couldn’t let such an important milestone go. So instead we’re doing it online.
I didn’t perform on night 1 but I was interviewed by Glenn Case, which was a lot of fun.
On night 2, I produced the stream and video (and did a bunch of simple bumper animations, which was fun!) and also one of my music videos got played. And it was cool to see responses to it from people who hadn’t seen it before!
Anyway, I have recorded a live set along with most of the other members of Sockpuppet, and hopefully that’ll get broadcast this week on night 3. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.