Midnight Monday Studio Cat

Luna wanders into the (somewhat messy) studio, where I spent much of this weekend working on several projects, including music you will probably never hear and the Sunday podcast. It's a rare shot of both the PC and Mac laptops along with the keyboards and other gear.

Actually, I think the ketzela is more interested in those cushions and bedding than in any musical or technological mischief.

Preparing for tomorrow's today's performance, part 2

Things were looking pretty dire yesterday afternoon, with major audio problems on both the PC and Mac. Without going into details, I was getting intermittent pops, clicks and stutters on the PC, and the Mac was simply outputting something wrong. Eventually, I was able to get the mac working with clean audio, so that became the computer for today's performance, together with an E-MU 0202 | USB and an Xboard.

Basically, the mac is running Open Sound World, more specifically, the latest version that works with my new Python interface. Without the pesky graphical interface, the system is rock solid and a lot more efficient to program. It's more akin to SuperCollider or the practice of “live coding”, if you are familiar with either of those. So with this setup, I was able to get things up and running for today very quickly. And it is rock solid, though I don't want to jinx the actual performance too much by describing all the things that didn't happen.

The “instrument” for today allows two live recordings to be played back at various rates, controlled by the MIDI keyboard and knobs. I will be playing several of my Indian instruments to feed the recordings, in particular the ektar (single-string instrument) and the gopichand (also single string, with a bendable neck for pitch modulation).

Of course, the ketzela wants to get in the act again, too:

One last-minute change was dealing with my Xboard killing itself (something stupid on my part, really). Fortunately, I also have the Novation keyboard as a backup, and although the keyboard itself isn't as good, the controllers are a better fit.

The setup is also extremely compact. This is all I have to carry:

Well, actually, this and the folding table I usually bring. Still, it will be very light and relatively easy to set up (especially as the mac boots very quickly).

Zip visits MacWorld

I had an opportunity to visit the big MacWorld Expo this past Friday, and of course Zip came along.

Of course, the big news this year was the unveiling of the iPhone. Here it is:

Can you see it? No? Well, neither could I. There was never a moment when there wasn't huge crowd surrounding the poor little device.

We decided to instead focus our attention on the well established and ubiquitous iPod:

You can barely stretch out your hand at MacWord and not come in contact with an iPod or something attached to an iPod. Indeed, much of the exhbition floor was devoted to iPod accessories and peripheral devices. I was most impressed with a device from Belkin, a six channel audio mixer that can record directly to an iPod (as well as to a computer if one so chooses). They expect to release it sometime later this year.

Among the more prosaic iPod accessories were numerous speaker systems:

Aesthetics and good design are key to Apple/Macintosh experience, so the emphasis is always on appearance and personality. This is true for speaker systems as much as for carrying cases and fashion accessories.

I quite liked the design of this offering from Harmon-Kardon:

And of course the extremely cute iWoofer from Rain Design:

This seems as good a time as any to discuss the use of the letter “i” for anything and everything at MacWorld. This is not only true for software and hardware offerings from Apple, but from the accessory vendors as well. You cannot escape the “i” in either the product names or the marketing surrounding them.

In reflecting on the “i”, I found myself thinking back to a favorite story of mine, Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar…. The community in which much of the story was set was called iDEATH, complete with leading lowercase “i”. There was also the somewhat villainous character inBOIL.

On the subject of modernist art and culture, there was also this ad from the good people at Roxio for the latest versions of Toast, which evokes the art of Lichtenstein and Warhol:

HP also offered modern-culture icons at its large digital photography presentation, including large-scale prints from photographer Joel Meyerowitz. Among them were several photos of 1970s New York. New York in the 1970s epitomized the crossing of high culture and urban decay, and the photographs capture that mix of the sleek and modern and the slightly rundown…

…but time to get back to the expo. I suppose I did get bored with the whole “digital lifestyle” thing, but I would be remiss if I closed without mentioning our friends over at Creative Technologies. They made a big push into the iPod and Mac space this year with several “designed for iPod” gadgets, including the oddly named Xmod. It seems that even when Apple makes it embarrassingly easy or accessory makers to be hip, Creative refuses to get it. Note to the folks at Creative marketing: the “i” is supposed to go at the beginning!

I do have to give them credit for letting E-MU Systems at least have one table at the show to present its Macintosh-compatible products, including the 0404|USB and 0202|USB with recently released Mac drivers.

It's actually a pretty decent audio interface for the Mac, and of course certain people busted their $#%es to make it OSX compatible, so you should check it out.

Well, that will wrap it up for our brief visit to MacWorld. I would try and leave you with some pithy remarks, but I'm still stuck on my whole “nostalgia for the big city” line of thought, and on the intersection of high and low culture afforded by Apple's vision of “digital lifestyle.” I doubt this is the last we at CatSynth will have to say on such matters…

E-MU Introduces Beta Mac OS X Drivers For 0202 And 0404 USB 2.0 Interfaces

I suppose on the eve of MacWorld, I can take a moment to brag about a recent Mac-related accomplishment of mine:

E-MU® Systems has announced the release of a Beta Macintosh OS X driver (Apple CoreAudio) for its 0202 USB 2.0 audio interface and 0404 USB 2.0 audio/MIDI interface…
…E-MU's new Beta Macintosh OS X driver is now available for free download at www.emu.com.