There is additional content you may be able to see if you log in.

Studio and cat updates

Studio

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!

Read more…

Finally setting up a recording space

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.

Read more…

Songs of Substance preorders live

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!

Ever since Good Luck Charm I’ve known that this album was going to be called Songs of Substance. Preorders are open now, and I hope to have the album ready for purchase by October 1.

Read more…

Song Fight! Live fight

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!

Song Fight! Apart and Together 2021

In a few hours will be the first night of Song Fight!’s annual live show (done not-quite-live again this year, thanks delta variant). Please give it a watch!

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.

Current goings-on

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.

Read more…

Shoulder, unpacking, gardening, etc.

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.)

Read more…

DDR/Stepmania fun times

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!

Read more…

Pain, music, and DDR

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).

Read more…

Audio software for sale

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:

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.)

Port Angeles day 3

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.

Read more…

Song Fight! Live(stream)! Last night!

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.

I also had a lot of fun being background support on night 4, and it was also a thrill to be involved in the Seth Gibbs tribute and for my set to be so well-received on night 3.

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!)

Song Fight! Live: Social and Distanced 2020

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.

Checking in

I’m still alive, I just haven’t had a lot to say I guess. At least not publicly.

Work is work. Lots of frustrations not worth getting into. I was at least managing to get some music done which felt good, and my pain was improving until it suddenly wasn’t, so it’ll still be some time before I can work on comics again. Which is a shame because I really want to work on both Lewi and Unity, gosh I have so much more story to tell on both of them…

I’ve been wanting to do an online concert in lieu of Song Fight! Live (which was canceled due to the pandemic) but I doubt I’ll be in any position to do that either, and my ideas for how to do an ersatz performance would take a lot more effort than I’m willing to put into it right now.

Read more…

Audio Hijack is good, actually

I’d bought pretty heavily into the iTunes ecosystem primarily because it gave me a good listening experience, but also because it had good interoperability with Apple’s AirPlay devices. But ever since upgrading to Catalina, AirPlay has refused to work for completely inscrutable reasons. I’d kind of given up on whole-home music streaming (and was thinking of getting a small FM transmitter and an analog tuner, like I did back in grad school) but then I remembered that I had a generic Bluetooth receiver that I’d bought for use in my previous car.

So, after a little bit of setup and verifying that my desktop could actually communicate to it from across my home, I was going to do the obvious thing and just set up a multi-audio output device to pipe Music.app through.

Read more…

Today’s Catalina iTunes Music gripe

iOS and watchOS have a great little remote control app for iTunes, which lets you control iTunes playback. It’s useful when I need to play or pause music during a typing break, or if I get a phone call while I’m in another room from my computer or whatever.

It’s supposed to work with Music.app.

It doesn’t.

I mean, it’ll pretend to connect just fine, but it never actually shows any of the playback information, and the controls do nothing.

Bonus fuckery: iTunes Match completely messed up the Fingertips suite on They Might Be Giants' Apollo 18. Tracks were out of order (yeah, yeah, I know it’s supposed to be shuffled but my brain has a thing) and half of them were glitched out and truncated.

The ongoing quagmire that is iTunes Catalina Music.app

So, the latest issue with iTunes is that for whatever reason it’s stopped letting me actually play in a shuffle-from-library way. Which is to say, they got rid of the view where you can just see your whole library as the library, and click a “play” or “shuffle” button from there. I don’t know when it disappeared, but I know it used to be there, and now it isn’t.

It used to be that if you just had your view set to “albums” and pressed play anyway, it’d go ahead and choose something at random to play. But today it just kept on doing the same album: The Bends by Radiohead. Which is, granted, a great album, but I don’t know why it was choosing that one and that one alone, and I only felt like listening to it once, you know?

Read more…

The end of two eras

Two things happened today of note:

  1. My new audio interface (affiliate link) arrived
  2. The demolition on my kitchen happened

Neither are things I really wanted to have to, y'know, spend this kind of money on right now, but they were both necessary. If badly-timed.

Read more…

iTunes Cloud Library seems better now

So, I don’t know if something changed in iOS or in iTunes Cloud Library or what, but now the cloud smart playlist thing is working a lot better now; at the very least, my cloud-synchronized smart playlist is at least doing the proper album shuffle on my phone.

It still doesn’t seem to be updating what’s in the playlist based on what’s been played/skipped recently, though. But it’s hard to tell if that just takes a while for the play stats to get updated and propagated or what. To be fair this is a hard problem.

Meanwhile, I also finally upgraded my laptop to Catalina. The new Music app is taking for-freaking-ever to sync over my library. But at least it claims to support it, after clicking “Please don’t sign me up for Apple Music” about a dozen times, and then once again saying “yes I’m sure” when I tell it to turn on syncing my actual library. But this also gave me an opportunity to see how much of my stuff is broken; the Native Instruments installer is working now, and while NI still doesn’t recommend upgrading, all of their software that I use seems to be supported.

Unfortunately, my desktop’s audio interface isn’t currently supported on Catalina, so I won’t be upgrading that any time soon. Presonus have said that they will be releasing a Catalina update for it after all (after years of saying they wouldn’t release any more updates) but there’s no timetable for it. If there’s no update in, say, 3 months, I might have to start looking into new audio hardware, and that’s expensive and I’ve yet to see another audio interface which supports (or at least advertises) the hardware submix functionality that I use on the FireStudio. I got used to that when I set up my Twitch setup but have found it to be genuinely useful for keeping my headphone and speaker mix separate regardless. It’s nice not having to deal with muting my connected microphones every time I switch to my speakers.