Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Album of the Decade

You can't listen to The Drift. It doesn't let you. The voice; there's something wrong with the voice. Is Walker singing in tune? What happened to his tone? Is that warble supposed to be there? I think he's dying. He's old and a recluse and unhealthy. He wears a baseball cap everywhere and gets no light. I am sure he's dying of something. It must be cancer, the wasting disease. The one we can't stop.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Music of the Decade: Runner-Ups

The blogosphere has come alive with posts championing various albums as the best of the decade. Which is funny, because I thought we had one more year to go! Nonetheless, after I found myself responding in comment form to some of them, I thought it best to present my own winners here, even though I recognise how useless such an enterprise is. After all, I barely listen to contemporary music. But then again, that might be an advantage, as I'm largely immune to the usual hype and trends. The good stuff filters through. Sometimes this even corresponds with what has been hyped.

My list will contain many choices you will expect and maybe some you don't. I base it entirely on my own subjective position as an electro-acoustic composer with a great love for post-punk music and adventurous forms of all stripes.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Security Software For Windows

In this follow-up on 21 Steps To A Safer Computer I will specify the software packages I use to protect my Windows XP system (also compatible with Vista and Windows 7 I imagine). The first fact I'd like to convey is that it is not necessary to pay for anti-malware / anti-virus software. Lack of money is no excuse for bad security!

Over the years I have used various products. The general trend is for excellent new free packages to develop to the point that their firms start charging for them. Then they grow into enormous bloat-ware that require constant maintenance and payments.
Thursday, December 10, 2009

21 Steps To A Safer Computer

In the first article on computer security I provided a gentle introduction. In this post I'm going to make some specific recommendations, knowing well that most will ignore what I am writing. Perhaps the only way to ensure such advice is heeded is to have disaster befall you! I certainly hope it doesn't come to that, but I am quite familiar with human nature.

Before I begin I will itemise some consequences of falling prey to malware. Any or all of these can (and will) happen to you:
  • Your web browsing behaviour can be tracked in order to present unwanted advertisement.
  • Your browser can be redirected to porn and other sales sites.
  • Your passwords can be stolen and used for fraudulent purposes.
  • Email messages can be sent as if from yourself but with malicious content.
  • Your identity on internet forums can be stolen and used to post racist, defamatory or otherwise unappealing messages.
  • Your computer can be hijacked, without you knowing, and used as a bot to send out spam.
  • Your computer can be used to orchestrate denial of service (DOS) attacks, opening you up to legal liabilities.
  • An application can be rendered inoperative.
  • Your entire computer can be wiped.
Thursday, December 10, 2009

new track: Wavefront Makara

I have a new (short) track online, entitled "Wavefront Makara (hue blue linear)". This is a response to the post at Music Of Sound in which film sound designer Tim Prebble asked people to interpret a particular image of ocean waves. Go there and check out the photograph. I urge you to listen to the other submissions, because they are very good!

I interpreted the image in two ways. First, objectively, in terms of what the actual pixels sound like, using a programme that interprets pixel data using additive synthesis. Second, subjectively, in terms of what the location the image represents might sound like. For this I used location recordings of a beach and waves I gathered here in Ireland. This collision of extreme digital sounds and more palatable phonography I left pretty well undoctored.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What To Do About Computer Security (Part 1)

Well, it had to happen eventually. After years of living free and easy, our home network was recently hit with some sort of malware that caused quite a bit of havoc and has taken me five days to repair. I don't know how it started but I do know that one of the vectors used was our USB sticks. This experience has sent me back to the drawing board to re-engineer a more secure system.

Computer security is a confusing business these days. There are so many types of programmes trying to destroy our systems that even keeping track of all the categories of threats and deterrents has become complicated. In these two articles I'll run through some of the common terminology and make some recommendations.

This most recent attack wiped out the data on one computer and compromised my passwords, forcing me to update all my site passwords. Yes, that's right, I have had to change dozens, even hundreds of passwords at financial, social networking, subscription, product registration and other sites. Define "tedious" -- this comes pretty close!

Don't want this to happen to you? Please read on.