Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dictionary of Musical Terms

Time for a little levity, so I went back into my files (thousands of unpublished articles) and discovered this... have fun adding your own terms!

Dictionary of Musical Terms

a cappella: smoke break for the accompaniment

a niente: future income forecast for students of composition

adagietto: fairly slowly but not that slowly, come on now, a little faster, do you think we have all day?

Friday, October 30, 2020

On Corbyn, smear campaigns, and journalism


You may have noticed, even if you care little for the politics of the UK, that Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party. That's a party he joined at age 16, has been active in for 55 years, and recently led in an election highlighted by outright lies from the Tory party, combined with a smear-filled campaign of hate directed at his rational and measured policies. In this, the mainstream media were completely complicit.
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

DaVinci Resolve resource hub

I have been working with DaVinci Resolve for some time now, and I must say it has completely changed my video world. Media management, transcoding, timeline editing, animation, effects, colour grading... it seems to do just about everything. Furthermore, it's changed how I teach video, since it lowers the bar of entry to a professional-level feature set. When I recommend it to artists, it blows their minds. When I teach it to my students, they are empowered to do their best work.

However, like other professional video applications, Resolve is complex. I have a series of tutorials ready for publication, and will use this page as a launch pad for these videos.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

On Releasing Music: My Advice As Label Owner

I have a "record label," if that's what they are still called. As curator of Stolen Mirror, I consult with artistists on what to release and how best to do this. Many times, nothing gets released at all, but perhaps the process is still useful.

When an album does result, it's because I've creating graphics, written marketing material, created a unified image, and performed the tedious tasks of uploading files and submitting publishing information.

There is no way to make money from distributing music. Instead, I treat my label as an act of friendship with my artists. I release music after a significant investment of time, with no hope of returns, because I want to see their sounds get more exposure.

I also give advice, hard-worn from the many years I've been on the strange peripheries of radio, live music, and production. Let me share this advice here.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Computer ports: making sense of USB and Thunderbolt

Do you want to know how to connect an older peripheral to your computer? Are you confused by how Thunderbolt relates to USB-C? This tech article is designed to shed light on this acronym-ridden realm.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a series of standards that govern how peripherals (external drives, phones, printers, pointing devices, etc.) will connect to a host (computer, gaming console, etc.). USB consists of two distinct parts. The first part of the specification consists of numbered protocols that indicate the available features and transfer speeds. The second part consists of lettered standards specifying the physical ports.
Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Defund the Police: Five Steps to Peace

In this article I will explain what the slogan "defund the police" means. These points largely align with Campaign Zero, which provides a massive, detailed body of research to back up these claims. However, I have chosen to emphasise five points in a different order and manner than that organisation.

These points are made largely within the context of the USA and the Black Lives Matter movement. My personal experience with police forces in that country is limited but certainly not reassuring. It's important to note that many, though not all, of the points made about policing in the USA are relevant to other countries. As in other spheres, the Usonian situation acts as a warning of where dangerous ideologies can lead, a limit case if you will.
Monday, June 08, 2020

On the shaming of protestors

In the last few days I have read dozens, if not hundreds, of posts in newspaper comment streams and social media complaining about protesters. The argument is the same. We are not supposed to assemble in light of the current pandemic. So those who do gather for protest and demonstrations -- as they have in Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, and elsewhere around Ireland -- are violating the rules. Shame on them!

If you want evidence, merely wade into the cesspit that is the comments section of the Limerick Leader. (I will not provide a link nor drive revenue to their site.) Here you will find people parroting the racist line "All lives matter", calling protesters "trouble makers," "idiots," "stupid," etc.
Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Life catches up with imagination

This is a story of a film project that came true. Only not in the way I had planned.
Sunday, May 31, 2020

Usonia not America: On Imperialist Language

This article proposes that the term Usonian be used to describe residents or citizens of the USA, in place of the imperialist term American. Language reflects politics. This revolutionary gesture is necessary to overturn decades of exceptionalism that has damaged so many people(s).

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Visual Coding with Processing: COVID-19 Tracker

This project uses the public API for COVID-19 mortality data, and maps the regional totals. So long as you understand the basics of Processing, you should be prepared for the step-by-step instructions in the video.

Get the code on Github. The repository has a improvements on the version in the video, but is largely similar.
Thursday, April 09, 2020

A Few Non-Technical Facts About 5G

5G is so named because it is the fifth generation of wireless cellular data networking to be widely deployed. The main advantages are increased bandwidth and decreased latency.

Lately there have been many colourful conspiracy theories trotted out about 5G, along with less extreme health claims. But like all such campaigns, these rely on spreading fear and uncertainty, making people distrust evidence-based sources and those who are more expert than the reader in relevant fields. Take this as a typical example:

"5G means densification, with each individual, visible antenna being replaced by thousands of tiny antennas menacing people, animals and nature from every nook and cranny on Earth and from 20,000 or more satellites with lethal, laser-like beams hitting their unwitting targets millions of times a day like silent bullets."

The negative energies demonstrated by this statement are far more damaging to our psyches and personal well-being than anything cellular telecommunications is likely to come up with. For that reason I present a few non-technical facts about 5G.
Sunday, March 22, 2020

Place in the Time of the Virus

As a university lecturer I am now in the unenviable position of teaching undergraduate students without meeting them physically, with no communal lab resources, with no chats in the hallway... in short, without sharing place.

There are many tasks that can be accomplished with distance learning. I can put lectures online as videos, share lecture notes and screencasts, upload code. As a class we can chat individually or in groups, using video conferencing software.

But our sensory modalities are limited. Visually, we are now restricted to a two-dimensional array of pixels, without the depth and richness of an unmediated encounter. Our appreciation of each others' voices is hampered by frequency filtering, noise gates, and cross-moduation. Texture, scent, touch, and other sensory experiences are totally lacking. I miss the play of light in the classroom, and how the weather changes. (This season has seen snow, hail, and numerous storms with individualised characteristics.)
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Support great music.... now!

In this time of isolation, artists are suffering. Their consulting work is put on hold; their day jobs vanish; their gigs are cancelled. This post contains music from friends and accomplices. Please open your wallets along with your hearts. Donate to help keep music alive.

There's no better place to start than today on Bandcamp. This site is waiving their fees for 24 hours, so all the money collected goes directly into artists' hands. This offer starts Friday at midnight Pacific Time. While this is an ambiguous timestamp, I think, that means it kicked off already at 7am this morning (Friday) GMT.

Here are some of my favourites, in no special order. I will be buying too, so see you on Bandcamp!

Also I will continue highlighting artists in the future, since it's not only today you could be helping them. Besides, there's no way you can listen to all of this in a few hours!
Saturday, March 14, 2020

Government preparations for COVID-19

Updated 16 March 2020 with many more references and stats for four countries.

I am not in the business of predicting the future, which is a dangerous activity at the best of times. But governments are now taking actions based on their best predictions, along with other factors. Chief among these is the requirement that they do not panic their citizenry. History has shown the people are caring when the chips are down. But in the transition period there can be panic.

Is our government here in Ireland doing the right thing? Is your government?
Thursday, March 12, 2020

COVID-19 compared to other diseases

Please note that this article was written 12 March 2020 and updated 14 March. It is retained here with the original statistics, as a piece of historical writing. Sadly, there are now more than 4600 deaths from COVID-19. Far more.

Since my last article, a lot has happened. COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the WHO. Italy has quarantined the entire country. Ireland has shut down all schools and day-care, banning large public events, including the upcoming St. Patrick's Day parades. These are reactions to the medical reality of the current disease.

I am seeing people on social media comparing COVID-19 to the catastrophic 1918 Spanish influenza. On the other extreme, some say that this pandemic is just another flu. Who is right? This article will use medical sources to answer this important question.
Friday, March 06, 2020

COVID-19 Recommendations and Analysis

Please note that this article was written 3 March 2020 and updated 8 March and 14 March. One recommendation and certain comments have been deleted to avoid misinformation. This is the first time in 1000 articles that I have done this, but I wish to avoid misleading readers.

This article is an attempt to compile facts concerning SARS-CoV-2 and its related disease COVID-19. Though I am not a medical expert, I will compile recommendations from reputed sources (available in the references). It is important that you know what precautions must be taken in the initial (containment) stage.

Then I will discuss matters arising, both statistical and political. That section is motivated by the anti-Chinese discourse and outright racism I have witnessed in the last weeks.

Please read this carefully. I am open to corrections in the comments.
Friday, February 14, 2020

A review of Processing books

Processing is the free and open Java development environment that targets artists who are intrigued by generative code. In essence it is the Java language with a friendly development interface and built-in libraries to get you started.

There are plenty of ways to learn Processing, including the tutorials on the organisation's website, and the built-in examples that come with the distribution. But if you prefer a printed book, keep reading. This article will review nine available publications, so you can make an informed purchase decision.

For the sake of completeness I will also append information on two books I haven't had a chance to read.