July 1, 2016

Life continues to go on (, , , , , )

by fluffy at 12:28 AM

A summary for people who don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and have missed out on all of my GLORIOUS TALKING ABOUT MY LIFE:

  • Got rid of the Beetle, bought a new(!) Mazda3. It's a lot of fun.
  • Am getting better about driving on freeways again (it helps that the Mazda3 is so much fun to drive and has a bunch of safety features that make me feel way more comfortable with driving on the freeway)
  • Work is going great, except my wrists suck pretty bad and I haven't been able to draw or work on music very much
  • But work is trying to help me out and I'm taking two weeks off soon and if that's not enough I'll look into medical leave
  • For the first of those weeks I'll be in NYC for Song Fight Live, come see me at the Sidewalk Cafe NY on Sunday July 17! (probably, there's a small chance I might end up at the other show on the 16th instead but that seems unlikely, but the lineup as shown on the Sidewalk site is complete fiction right now)
  • Oh and accompanying me will be Spud (on bass) and Paul (on drums), and Paul is probably my oldest friend at this point (we go back to when we were like 12!) and we haven't performed together since a single what-were-we-thinking show back in (I want to say) 200...2? so that's pretty cool
  • One of my cats keeps on shitting on the carpet and I'm pretty sure it's Werner
  • Oh uh I finally came out to friends and family and coworkers and transitioned legally and changed my name and gender markers, I guess that's kind of big news?

November 26, 2015

This thing still on? (, , )

by fluffy at 1:17 PM

What's happened since June?

  • Album came out, sales were better than any other Sockpuppet album so far but still kind of disappointing
  • Started working with a couple of music placement agencies, but nothing's come of it yet (and I'm pretty sure the first one just took the money and ran, ugh)
  • The thing I'd been working on for a year finally shipped, and I changed teams to a more graphics-oriented R&D position
  • Gave up on trying to get my vinyl pressed via FeedBands, so I signed up for Qrates, where it's been one of their featured projects for quite some time (and I even got a nice note from them) but still isn't getting enough preorders to get made :(
  • My wrists still suck, and I haven't been working on comics. Except I have but it's been going very slowly.
  • I've been completely infatuated with Undertale since the day it came out
  • Still doing most of my blogging over on Tumblr.

June 11, 2015

For the three people who still read this blog ()

by fluffy at 12:57 AM
  • I'm doing most of my blogging hither and yon
  • I have a new album coming out in a few days (which is also my 37th birthday)
  • You can preorder it from my new music site
  • the old domain still works too, but I got a new SEO-friendlier domain name for it on the suggestion of my agent
  • oh yeah I have an agent, what the fuck
  • and a lot of other people interested in my music for song placements and stuff and uh
  • oh yeah also vote to get my music released on vinyl plsthx
  • things are going pretty good I guess?

February 24, 2015

YouTube's broken copyright system (part 238942 of ∞) (, , )

by fluffy at 9:01 AM

So in the past I've talked about how broken the copyright system is from the perspective of someone whose content gets falsely-flagged. But there's also problems with it from the perspective of a legitimate rights holder!

What I want, as an independent musician who believes in a free exchange of ideas, is a copyright flagging system that:

  • Notifies me that my work is being used
  • Gives me a reasonable cut of any ad revenue already being applied to the work
  • Ensures that my work is being attributed in a way that people can buy my source material if they so choose

What YouTube's ContentID system provides:

  • Tells the user that they are violating my copyright
  • Gives them the option to either remove my music from their video entirely, or add new ads that go solely to paying me
  • Notifies me that my work is being used
  • Ensures that my work is being attributed and directs people to the Google Play store

There are a few big problems with ContentID as it's implemented:

  • It's an all-or-nothing traditional-copyright-based system (no allowance for Creative Commons being used in the way it's intended)
  • It assumes a totalitarian grip on materials (because that's what the RIAA members wanted, and Google doesn't give a crap about indies)
  • The verbiage provided to the content user implies that they did something wrong and that they have broken the law and now must pay penance to the holy content creator
  • Content creators can either enroll their stuff in ContentID (and get all the above) or they can have it not enrolled, meaning that content users will either get spurious matches on other things or can get away with not actually following the CC license in the first place

What would be awesome is if YouTube were to add a ContentID mechanism that were Creative Commons-friendly. Enforce compliance with the CC license, and give a cut of existing revenue to the content source. But asking for such a thing is still like pissing into the wind.

August 8, 2014

Song Fight! Live: Washington, DC (, )

by fluffy at 12:07 AM

I'm participating in this year's Song Fight! Live. It's in Washington, DC this year, more specifically next Friday and Saturday (August 15 and 16) at 7DL Studios. The show starts at 6 PM both nights, and my set in particular is currently scheduled to be the first one on Friday (i.e. it's at 6). So, be there or don't. I'll also probably be playing in other peoples' sets as well, and will hopefully be participating in the traditional annual Live Fight.

Also, for folks who live in DC, I'll be getting in late Tuesday night, and not leaving until the following Tuesday afternoon, and quite a lot of that time is unaccounted for! So, if you have any druthers for meeting me, by all means, let's arrange such athing.

January 25, 2014

Radio Ready EP ()

by fluffy at 1:49 PM

Pay what you want (or don't pay at all).

April 27, 2013

Digital fulfillment options (, , , )

by fluffy at 5:46 PM

Right now there is a renaissance in digital goods fulfillment options, with plenty of startups hoping to get the long-tail microtransaction stuff going in their favor. Some of them are oriented more towards music, while others are oriented more towards eBooks or other sorts of things. Here's a quick comparison of a few of them (Bandcamp, CDBaby, Gumroad, and Simple Goods) for those who might be interested in such a thing.

March 3, 2013

Wherein I delete all my YouTube videos (, , )

by fluffy at 10:48 PM

So, a few years ago I made some remixes of other peoples' youtube videos, as a sort of slice-of-life thing. Many of the videos were about peoples' difficulty with other people on the Internet, or their views of politics, and so on. I was just doing an artsy thing.

December 21, 2012

New drumkit ()

by fluffy at 11:19 PM

I have an Alesis ControlPad which was irritating the hell out of me for a number of reasons and I don't think I've actually used it in anything. I was looking into trying to extend its capabilities but I decided I'd rather just have a proper electric kit.

Unfortunately, none of the off-the-shelf electric kits really had the mix of characteristics I wanted. I like the Alesis drum heads, and the Roland cymbals, and the Yamaha kick pedal, and I wanted to just use my existing Korg Wavedrum for snare-esque purposes, and I didn't want a big, space-consuming rack since even the smallest rack I could find (for the Yamaha DTX) was way too big for the space I wanted to put it in. Plus, all the bundled kits came with sound generation modules which had really crappy sample sets that I wasn't going to use anyway, and I really just wanted a basic trigger→MIDI converter.

So, I ended up piecing my own system together. It ended up costing more than a midrange off-the-shelf bundle, but it was a lot less than a complete set of Roland v.drums and I got exactly what I wanted (and it's actually much more capable than an all-in-one solution).

August 19, 2012

A motivated seller (, , )

by fluffy at 3:03 PM

So, this temporary housing is driving me nuts.

Meanwhile, I am putting in an offer on a condo that I really like. (It's a registered historical landmark!)

Unfortunately, my place back in SF won't be on the market until Thursday (thanks, realtor who told me things would move a lot faster than they actually are), and after that it'll take who knows how long for offers to come in, and after that it'll take who knows how long for it to close. Kerri (my realtor in Seattle) is telling me that it'll be at least a month after any offers come in before they can close, and those would come after the open house on the 26th, so that means I'm stuck here until at least September 26 (because I can't close on a property in Seattle until my property in San Francisco also closes). Or maybe it can be moved up with a bridge loan. I'm not sure if I can afford to pay essentially three mortgages (SF mortgage, Seattle mortgage, bridge loan) at once though. I'll ask the loan broker here what works, I suppose.

Anyway I'm pretty frustrated with my realtor back in San Francisco; he told me things would move at a certain rate, but then didn't keep me appraised of things that would potentially delay it until it was too late for me to do anything about it (for example, he decided more painting was necessary than we'd agreed to and that pushed things back a few days, and then the stager wanted to be paid up-front, which she didn't tell me even when I'd met her when I was moving out; I could have sent her a check as soon as she sent me the quote instead of having to do a wire transfer a few days after she said that she hadn't started yet because she hadn't been paid, and of course the stager made it really difficult for me to get her wire transfer details too because she is a total corn flake). Then when I moved like crazy to get things moving as fast as I could, he still dragged his feet at getting it going. I'm pretty disappointed in him.

At least I finally start work tomorrow so I'll have something to do other than being driven crazy by this terrible temporary housing or wishing I had the energy to work on the music app I want to work on. (Of course the basic idea behind the music app is well-explored, but it's the big-picture stuff that I really want to do! But I can't do the big-picture stuff without the basic part of it. And nobody seems to just have a componentized thing for the basic part. Not that the basic part would be that hard to implement, but I'm lazy.)

June 23, 2012

A thing I worked on ()

by fluffy at 10:30 PM

A few years ago, Kimmo Lemetti (author/artist of Gone with the Blastwave) did a Dwarf Fortress animation and needed someone to do sound for it. So I did sound for it. He finally got around to posting it recently:

It is my understanding that if you are into Dwarf Fortress this animation is hilarious.

June 4, 2012

YouTube's broken copyright dispute system (, )

by fluffy at 11:34 PM

So, quite some time ago, I did a remix of a YouTube user's video (warning: NSFW language). Recently it was flagged as a copyright infringement. Not from the original user whose video was remixed, but from "AdRev for Rights Holder." Their claim is that it makes unlicensed use of "Mark Allan Dunn-Flashpoint Drum," which I have never heard of before.

The actual remix is composed solely of the audio track of the original YouTube video, loops I made, and stock loops from the Apple Logic Studio royalty-free collection. If Mark Allan Dunn-Flashpoint Drum is part of that, it is only because it was in the Logic Studio collection. The only drum loop actually being used is the "2-Step Flux Beat 02" loop from Logic, and I suspect that is what they are claiming to be "Flashpoint Drum." Of course, I cannot actually find any evidence online for what "Flashpoint Drum" might actually be, so I cna't verify this.

The "respond to dispute" page gave no option for "this video does not contain the disputed content." The closest match to the situation was, "I have a license for the content." So, I selected that option, and stated that the only drum loop in the project was taken from the Apple Logic Studio royalty-free loops collection. This dispute was, of course, rejected.

Does anyone have any idea what the hell "Flashpoint Drum" is, who this "Mark Allan Dunn" guy is, and why "AdRev for Rights Holder" is making predatory copyright claims against videos that don't include that actual content? I can't find any information about "Mark Allan Dunn" online, or anything about "Flashpoint Drum," and I can't help but think that this is a case of some overeager law firm claiming copyright over other peoples' work and then issuing predatory copyright claims against things that legally use that third-party work.

Anyone have any advice? For now my video is still up, but I have no idea if that will remain the case, and of course Google is treating everything like a black hole and gives me absolutely no further opportunity to dispute the claim or talk to someone who might have any idea of what's going on.

Apparently it looks like AdRev for Rights Holder means that the person who has raised the erroneous copyright claim can in fact make money off of my remix, so even though I had no plans to monetize it myself, it means that other people can, and that's just not fair. If anyone should get any money off of it, it should be skoalrebel (the guy in the video) and not someone who just happened to have a drum loop that sounded similar enough to the one I used!

Looks like this is also a pretty common problem, because of the way that YouTube does its copyright fingerprinting, apparently. There are other threads about it on Google's forums, without any responses from Google, of course.

As always the small, independent content creators are getting shafted by the big media conglomerates who have bent the world to their will.

April 30, 2012

"It Just Works" (, , )

by fluffy at 8:50 AM

For the first time in a while, I decided to buy an album off the iTunes Music Store (since it was the only place it was available). Actually purchasing it required:

  1. Logging into iTunes
  2. Accepting updated terms and conditions
  3. Logging into iTunes again
  4. Enabling a bunch of wish-it-were-two-factor authentication questions (with the usual problems the pre-set questions always have, and no way to set custom questions)
  5. Logging into iTunes again
  6. Being notified of the download on every iOS device in my house simultaneously (some of which I didn't realize were even turned on)
  7. Being asked if I wanted to turn on automatic downloads of purchases (why yes I WOULD like to actually download this music I just paid for!)
  8. Finally, logging into iTunes again

At that point it finally downloaded the album.

December 31, 2011

Year in review (, , , , , , )

by fluffy at 2:30 PM

The year began just hours after my grandmother died.

June 24, 2011

5 Things Organisms Need To Understand To "Succeed" (, , )

by fluffy at 11:01 AM

5. PARENTS: Reproducing asexually is a load of work. It is also very difficult to introduce beneficial mutations into a population if every offspring only inherits from a single genetic line. Unless you have a perfectly-set genome and a nutrient-rich stable environment, it's probably a good idea to reproduce sexually. Ideally with a mate you can trust. Someone with a matching genome. Someone who has also shown great survival traits. Someone who is willing to partake in a genetic exchange with you in which one of your gametes becomes fertilized by the others'. If your partner isn't willing to provide EVERY chromosome - e.g. bilateral symmetry, further reproductive ability, the ability to take in nutrients and excrete waste products - for you, chances are the organism in control of your future lineage (yes, survival is based on the ability to procreate further) may not have the best intentions for you or your species. Remember, everyone is looking to carve out an ecological niche and propagate their genes, too. Know who handles your genitalia, how they're handled (stimulated, bitten off after copulation, etc.), and how this partner plans to share the child-raising duties.

4. PARASITIC ATTACHMENT: What does this mean? The organism you're about to pair with is going to attach themselves to your body and make use of your own biological processes. Usually, this means there will be some up-front stimulation effect, but in the long run you're going to be doing extra work to sustain two lifeforms while only the attached one will benefit. Eat an apple. Parasite gets a cut. Eat a fermented soybean. Parasite gets a cut. Feeling heroic and want to burrow in a river bank. The parasite lives right there with you. Essentially, you do the work, parasite gets the benefits. That's the price you pay for an initial surge of dopamine. Even your excretory system is used to spread their eggs. Literally. Understand the tradeoffs and how your food intake is shared. A parasitic attachment only makes sense if there is a symbiotic relationship (e.g.the production of an enzyme which allows you to digest wood pulp or complex sugars) without having an ongoing drain on the resources you would otherwise be able to process through normal digestive mechanisms.

3. SURVIVAL INSTINCT: Normally, I'd put survival instinct before food intake, but since survival instinct is often less important due to herd strength or more advanced societal evolution, survival instinct falls just shy of food intake in order of importance. But survival instinct = your ability to survive. OK, think of survival instinct this way: You have a chance to become directly subservient to your hive queen and be responsible for protecting the safety of the colony. 92.3% Guaranteed. But you must attach your...uh, weapon directly to your entrails, and harming any interloper will mean certain death. There's no way you'd sacrifice your survival ability for a bit of pollen. Right? That's survival instinct. Don't compromise it. Ever. Why? Let's say you do compromise your survival instinct, 'cause those things that looked like berries tasted REALLY GOOD, or your tendril extended over an unfortunately placed barb, etc. You have ONE eye stalk that gets invaded by a foreign entity and a bird (it's possible!) thinks your eye is a tasty worm. The bird eats your eye and spreads the contained eggs aerially, 12 million infestations in 1 year. Everyone's getting infected by it. Awesome! Guess how much personal benefit you get from it? Zip! True, you may've regrown your infected eye stalk a few times and had it eaten by more birds, but the entity that infected your eye stalk gets the lion's share of the procreation. They get to continue in their large ecological niche throughout the rainforest, while no female will mate with you because of your missing eye stalk. Own your eye stalk. After eating (great) detritus, it's all you really have.

2. FOOD INTAKE: Eat the fucking food! Don't ignore food. Don't gloss over entire sources of nutrition to get to the "Highly fermented sucrose" cache. Yeah, you want to know if you'll have enough food to construct a nice nest, but understand that food is scarce for a reason. And it's not for your benefit. Look to see what others of your species are eating; don't assume you know whether something is edible or not. Also, get an immune system. One you can trust. This is your biome and you don't want Cordyceps Bassiana - the brain-invading fungus you saw infect those beetles over there - inducing you to climb up to the top of a tree, only to leave your head swollen with spore sacs shortly before it explodes and spreads itself everywhere. The food chain is complicated. Species are protectionist, usually in favor of the species providing their own intake (i.e., silk worms -> tea leaves). For every species that says "We got fucked!", "Oxygen-producing phytoplankton made the waters unsurvivable outside of oceanic vents!", "Fuck those anglerfish... I was promised a tasty snack!", or "That cuckoo bird engaged in brood parasitism!", I wonder if they learned to gather their own food properly. Food scarcity and niche encroach create planet-shattering havoc. Always know where you eat before offering your nutrition to a competing genus. Always.

1. REPRODUCTION: OK, if survival instinct = your ability to live, what is reproduction then? Everything else. Without reproduction - you know, the kind that allows your offspring to continue your positive traits - you got nothing. You can't cell divide forever. Egg sacs for a creature without a penis won't ever get filled (though maybe there's a reproduction idea, but it'd only work for certain species of lizards and insects who reproduce via parthenogenesis via lesbian stimulation). A female won't accept your sperm without a delivery mechanism. Really, focus (like a spherical lensed eye, like a mammal, like an avian) on reproduction. Yeah, I know. You're excited, you want to stimulate yourself orally, get a dopamine response, ejaculate, make burrows, eat slime molds every night... the works! But if your reproductive ability isn't good (mom's sexual proclivity doesn't count), then forget it. I'm not talking about "long-term hibernating" your reproduction cycle. We all know the seventeen-year cicada story. But without solid reproduction, confidence (not attitude!) in your abilities at mating, and the physical stamina to back it all up, well, what's the point in going through with points 5, 4, 3, 2? Because you want to? Seriously, go get an RNA retrovirus instead. There's nothing wrong with being a pond goldfish or a colony of diatoms that clump together. 99.9% of biodiversity is made this way. But want it out in the public as a successful documented species then make sure the reproduction rates are better than a cryptozoology study.

June 13, 2011

Exorcising demons (, , )

by fluffy at 1:26 PM

For the last several days I've been back in NYC for the first time in six years, for Song Fight Live. The show went pretty well; there were some logistical problems and some equipment issues and of course things didn't go as amazingly as most people ever expect them to, but there isn't really anything new there. It was fun and a good time, when maintaining an appropriate perspective on what it was we were actually doing (PROTIP: we are not actually rock stars).

The main thing I was worried about is that much of our time would be spent treading old ground that represents about a year's worth of really bad memories for me, and I did everything I could to ignore the fact that I was physically in a place where mentally I was very bad off. Trying to ignore the familiar sight of the L train and Union Square and the like, in particular, made me feel twinges of ickiness (even obsessively pre-planning transit before flying here made me feel twinges of deep pit-of-the-stomach sickness), and I very purposefully let Mike (a fellow songfighter from Seattle with whom I was sharing a room and most of my time) lead the way everywhere, and basically played willfully ignorant about how to get around.

Last night, though, I ended up getting, shall we say, sufficiently intoxicated, and ended up getting separated from Mike, having gone with a different group that was going to do some further bar-hopping, but certain members of that group had much better judgement than myself and said I should probably head back to the hotel rather than drink more. (I fortunately had enough sense to realize that I was probably on the verge of feeling like I was going to die if I didn't get some water and lie down very soon. Even if it meant less time hanging out with certain friends who will remain nameless.)

So, of course, the way back to the hotel was very familiar: the L to Union Square, then the 6 up to my hotel in Midtown. It had aspects of trips I'd done many times before, and normally the majority of that would have been in order to go to work (L to 5th Ave, F/V to 25th St - or just walk, if no train was there). I also used to take a bit of extra time to myself to just walk to Union Square after work to clear my head further, so that particular station is also quite familiar to me.

But it might have just been the alcohol but I just plain didn't care. The whole journey was simple and easy and came completely naturally, and it was actually comforting in a way to be alone in the middle of a crowd of strangers. I got to thinking about my relationship with NYC and so on. I came to the realization that I'd gone to NYC to begin with because I needed to launch my career and I was just so desperate that I was willing to take anything, and the reason I put up with the hell I was in was simply because I had no self-worth to speak of. But now I know better, and while I still wouldn't want to live in NYC, I no longer hate it, because it's where I finally started to learn to appreciate myself.

April 4, 2011

Mixonic sucks (, )

by fluffy at 4:09 PM

While waiting for CreateSpace to validate my art assets, someone on Song Fight mentioned Mixonic, which I hadn't looked into for a few years, since the last time I checked they were better than CafePress but still pretty terrible, pricing- and feature-wise. Their current prices are pretty good, and beat all the other short-run manufacturers I'm aware of.

However, I have so far had nothing but problems with them, and I will not be using them or recommending their services.

March 14, 2011

Genre bending ()

by fluffy at 8:12 PM

So, my musical mission has for quite some time been to make music in as many genres as I can, with as little repetition as possible. Today I realized that this isn't anything new, and in fact it's probably been well-established by my biggest musical inspiration ever — The Beatles. As I have been listening to their self-titled album (the so-called "white album") for the first time in years I can't help but realize that they actually have a much wider stylistic and acoustic dynamic range than anything I'm struggling with on Love and Monsters. Back in the days before the loudness wars they just went ahead and let every song be equalized completely differently. So maybe I'll only focus on fixing the last few vocal pitch problems before considering it "done" (at least done enough for submission to Createspace and BandCamp, anyway).

March 7, 2011

Current short-run economics ()

by fluffy at 1:28 AM

I'm working on another album, and I'm getting close enough that it's time to start looking at CD manufacturing options.

My primary sales channel will (hopefully) just be my BandCamp page, but some weirdos still want to buy physical CDs. As with last time, the only real options are Discmakers, OasisCD, and CreateSpace.

February 14, 2011

Working on an album ()

by fluffy at 8:02 AM

Since Song Fight Live is coming up in a few months (June 11-12 in New York!), I'm trying to get another album done by then. I've got about 2/3 of a decent-sized album right now. This is a great time for people with specific requests of back-catalog songs of mine to put in.

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