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windows_iconHappy 25th birthday, Windows. I just had a birthday too, I’m 34 now. DOS & Windows have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. We’ve had a good run, but I’m moving on. I just sprung for a quad core 27″ iMac and I’m as excited about getting it as can be.

When I was younger I really loved getting my hands dirty, building my own systems, getting under the hood of the OS, tweaking it, customizing it, learning its quirks and weaknesses and how to make it run smoothly. The flexibility of Windows and the control it allowed me was a huge part of its draw. Along with it being the most popular platform – where the action was happening.

But things have changed. The most popular platform is the web and the OS matters less now. And I’ve personally changed. My number one issue in my life these days is that I don’t have enough time to do the things I want. And every time Windows wastes my time, or is unhelpful or counter-intuitive, I resent it and that resentment has finally boiled over. While I have issues with their lack of openness, my iPad and iPhone nearly always feel like they’re on my side – they want to help me do what I want.

Here are some things I’m looking forward to:

  • Being on Unix. Basically every other machine I interact with on a regular basis is running some flavor of Unix. Going back to DOS and not having all the usual tools available has become intolerable. Write a batch file? Ugh, go die.
  • Worrying less about security. As on the ball and cautious as I generally am, even with better browser and OS security and multiple scanning apps, it’s still impossible to avoid getting spyware. That of course sucks for performance and security issues but it’s also just a huge waste of time.
  • Easier backups. I’m excited about Time Machine. My backup situation right now works but is crazy and scattered.
  • Higher quality applications. In my research looking around to see if there was any software I’d truly miss from Windows, nearly everything appeared to have a superior OSX counterpart. 
  • All my iStuff working better. iTunes on Windows is a slow piece of shit. MediaMonkey is nice (but ugly) and syncing breaks regularly. My iPad and iPhone would rather deal with OSX, I’m sure.

We’ll see though – after so long with DOS and Windows the transition will certainly be weird, but I’m looking forward to it.

Posted on - November 21, 2010 [at] 4:01 pm by Brad
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Getting the laptop into the live show has been a long dumb technical process. It’s been working solid now for a long time so the last step was to get it all into a nice portable form factor that was quick and easy to set up and tear down.  I think I’m just about there:

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I bought this Gator Studio-2-Go case – which is a 2U rack case (front and back) as well as a laptop compartment on top (and most importantly a hole between the rack and laptop compartments for cable runs). Getting it was a stupid ordeal. I actually couldn’t find it anywhere in Canada (everyone said it was discontinued) so I had to order it from Sweetwater, get it delivered in the US and drive across the border to get it.  Sine then it’s been a gradual process figuring out everything I need in it.

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In the front (sorry for the crappy photos) I’ve got a Furman M-8X (rack-mounted power strip), a MOTU Ultralite mk3 (sound card) and a Shure PSM200 wireless transmitter (for feeding the click to the drummer). The power strip means I only have one power cord for the whole box, which is great.

In the back:

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The sound card’s outputs go into a Behringer ULTRA-DI PRO DI800, giving the sound dude three channels of DI’d output.  I had to learn how to build some short angle patch cables since non-angled ones wouldn’t fit with the back cover on.

Remaining issues:

  • I need an 8-channel XLR s-s-snake for the DI outputs (this has been ordered.)
  • The power supply for the PSM200 is one of those dudes with the AC adapter block separated from the plug. Meaning the block is floating around in the case, threatening to knock all my other connections out. I’m not sure how to secure it down or if I should try and replace it with a different adapter.
  • The Firewire adapter in the laptop sticks out of the side of the laptop a great deal and makes the side-foam the case comes with not fit properly. I guess I’ll cut a hole in it.
  • I wish it was easier to get the DI in and out in case I need to adjust something.  Right now I can squeeze my arms in but I’m only getting fatter so that’s not a permanent option. I don’t know much about racks – is there a. thing for that? A rack drawer maybe?

So instead of bringing in a pile of devices and having to set up all my cables each time, I’m down to one AC adapter and a handful of XLR outs and I don’t need any DIs from the house.

That was a lot of work.

Posted on - November 18, 2010 [at] 3:38 pm by Brad
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rebirth-ipadThe original Rebirth RB-338 was great. Released in 1996, I remember it being one of the first software synthesizers on the PC that seemed serious and sounded cool. An iPhone version has been around for a while but the iPad version was just released for $14.99 and I couldn’t resist trying it out.

The multi-touch is what makes the difference of course. While the screen is a tiny bit smaller than would be optimal – it’s hard to select drums without accidentally engaging a button or knob – being able to manipulate multiple controls at once without using a mouse is undeniably fun. You can actually feel like you’re jamming to a certain extent.

Ultimately though I feel disappointed and am not sure it was worth the $15. We’ll see if I go back to it. Without any sort of MIDI support (sending or sync or export) this is just another bleep-toy that won’t really integrate with my existing audio tools.

The 303 sounds are also pretty dated sounding to me (or at least not as fat as modern soft-synths), but the drums are still thick and fun. There’s also some ugly digital clipping if you start driving it too hard which is less present in modern plugins.

So, much like the original Rebirth, I’m still waiting for an iPad music app that seems serious and sounds cool.

Posted on - November 10, 2010 [at] 4:14 pm by Brad
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