Archive for March 2010

‘It’s A Black Thing’ by Lady Blacktronika

Lady Blacktronika got her start in music making in 1997 right here in San Jose with help and guidance from local veteran Mattski (aka Deadly Venomz). Since then she has moved to Oakland, and now produces some seriously emotive Beatdown sounds and Deep House. But she has also always been into Techno…the real bangin’ stuff. It just so happens that she made a handful of some real way-out sonic gems that we couldn’t help but release on DoBox. This release has been a long time coming, and we are excited to let the rest of the world hear these sounds. Get ready to move because you’re not gonna be able to help yourself.

Artwork by Steve Cooley

Get Anotha Man
U Thought It Was All Ovah
Y Seeng
Krip Whistle Track

Complete release in a .zip


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-28

  • I hate being flakey. Time to buckle down and get my shit together. #
  • Oh man, watching C-SPAN live. Work it work it. #
  • help! I… can't… stop… watching #
  • Aww man is anyone ELSE running for California attorney general? If Jerry Brown wins… crap. My brand name is screwed. #
  • oh shit! rt @hapsyn We're opening for JOEY FRIGGEN' BELTRAM in may 2010!! #
  • If you're a politician, and you say you're for smaller government… resign. "Mission accomplished!" #
  • Will that new autotune feature in the next version of photoshop help ADBE climb over $40? Hmm… unlikely. #
  • whoa, wtf is up with the woman with the massive nosebleed in the american idol audience?? That was super weird! #
  • OH, never friggen mind. Jeez. There should be a 10 minute holding period for tweets, I swear. #
  • Dear #justice4mj kindly stop tweeting me. I'm a software engineer. You should be tweeting @stevecooley4AG instead. #
  • Q h -s #
  • I really need to get Max his own Twitter account. #
  • #GERMANY #Justice4mj #wemissmj Ok, that's enough. Now I'm going to start antagonizing you people. You've been warned many times. #
  • Hey guys! I just donated $20 to @jerrybrown2010's campaign! #
  • Check out my blog post comparing desktop CNC machines… #

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epic newbie CNC comparison chart

After inquiring around about prices for lasers, I’m coming to the realization that maybe what I need isn’t a laser but a CNC rig.  I’m lucky to live near enough to Techshop that making the occasional drive up there is doable, but not a sustainable ongoing possibility with my family time needs.  So take a look at the research I’ve done into who the top contenders for desktop CNC could be for an almost total n00b to the sport.

Alright, so I know the G-code exists and that most every interesting machine that I want to work with understands how to work with that, so now it’s up to me to complete the equation. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, and by no means am I an expert on the topic, but based on what I could digest from their websites, this is what I took away from it all.   When I priced things to be as ready to run as possible starting with no previous equipment, here’s the ballpark figures:

machine x y z priced ready
to run
notes link
DIY! ? ? ? $100 to
while the price may be right, the time and skill involved just don’t make this an attractive option for me right now. Don’t let my schedule and skill stop YOU though. click here
Lumenlab MicRo 10″ 12″ 2.75″ ~$2,143
+ software
I’ve known this company since I made my LCD projector, so it was interesting to see them move into this arena. Honestly, though, details are sparse. Their blog about the build is just weird. Make a formal demo video, guys. click here
Probotix FireBall V90 12″ 18″ 3″ $1,174
+ router
+ software
This inexpensive unit won an award at the Maker Faire Austin, so that seems to bode well. There seem to be a lot of parts that you can add on, which seems to indicate that it’s not as turnkey as I’m looking for. If you already have steppers and are looking for a solid new gantry bed, maybe this would work well for you. That’s just not me yet. click here’s bluechick cnc 12″ 24″ ? $1,465
+ router
+ software
If you have more time than money, this unit seems like a *stellar* system to check out. The fit and finish isn’t the point here, it’s inexpensive and customizable. click here’s blacktoe cnc 24″ 48″ (!) 5 7/8″ (!!) $2,300
+ tools
+ software
Holy crap, look at that. Bad. Ass. I don’t know where else you’ll find that big of a CNC rig for that price. Now, it requires a lot of assembly, but their extensive library of videos on that topic should help. I’ve been studying this machine all week and I’m drooling over how nice it seems. It can accommodate a real router, not just a trim router. It’s huge. And cheap. click here
Next Wave Automation’s Shark cnc 13″ 24″ 4.5″ $2,800
all inclusive
This unit comes in a bit more expensive than the others, but three things I like about it. 1. it ships ready to run with software, 2. assembly apparently consists of 12 bolts, period. 3. Rockler sells it, so that probably means it’s a high quality tool. click here
Next Wave Automation’s Shark Pro cnc 24″ 24″ 4.25″ $3,800
all inclusive
This unit is the bigger version of the above unit. the extra $1,000 gets you almost twice the width and apparently “more power”. It also ships with software and presumably is the same 12 bolt assembly. The reviews I read for the smaller unit were all positive with one person saying “I just wish I’d gotten the bigger one” which makes me just wonder if I’d end up there too. If you’re in for $2,800 … I dunno. maybe. click here
Craftsman Compucarve
Woodcraft CarveWright
12 feet! 14.5″ 5″ $1,500 to
These are somewhat intriguing. I’m a little skeptical of the feed table, but maybe it’s ok. I dunno. I just… don’t know. These do have some built-in functions like cross cut, rip, and jointing. And a proprietary, but nice, quick tool change technology. Reviews seem mixed. Update: No G-Code import of any kind, and no plans to add that. So it’s a closed system with their own bits and software. Definitely a carving-centric hobby machine. click here

These prices assume you already have a computer… duh. And they don’t really take the cost of software into consideration, which is probably ok because there are a lot of software packages out there so I’ve heard. They do different things and cost different amounts of money… so it’s hard to factor it in easily. The other thing I haven’t factored in here is speed. And because I’m inexperienced, I don’t really know how to gauge that, other than to see that the Blacktoe is fast as hell. Ok, so I get that these machines all have an “inch per minute” speed rating… I would suspect it would also depend on 1. your router, 2. your gcode, and 3. the material you’re milling… so given those parameters, what does “high speed traverse” mean? Just how fast the machine does what it needs to do when it’s not doing a cutting maneuver? That’s my best guess.

So, those are the current contenders. Did I miss anything substantial? Leave a comment and let’s get it on the chart.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-21

  • Stupid daylight savings!! #
  • Is the time travellers wife the saddest movie of all time? #
  • what?? new @yogabbagabba episodes? Looking forward to them! #
  • We just got confirmation that #beatseqr will be at Maker Faire bay area 2010! more info soon: #
  • The 4 Types of Emails Programmers Receive (via @activestate) This is why we use a form to report problems. :) #
  • Now for arduino mega: RT @cycling74: @digitalcoleman has been working to improve the MaxMSP arduino experience… #
  • I muted @hapsyn via Nothing drastic, in 1:00 hrs I'll follow back. #
  • Managed to escape from tap plastics for less than $100. Sigh. #
  • after fiberglass reinforcement and replacing the earpads, these bose headphones aren't hurting me anymore, phew. #
  • Building code that builds gantt charts! #
  • Arduino/Electronics Meetup in SJ at @AnnoDomini Tuesday, MAR 23rd 7-10pm. Interested? RSVP to @atmcmnk or @rubaiyat. I sooo wish I could go! #
  • Well hello, tweetie, I just found out you CAN filter tweets based on keywords! #
  • Oh god! Tweetdeck can't filter by keyword! Instantly feeling how right this (hidden) tweetie feature is. #
  • Dobox Sessions…live now on! (via @boxbanga) #
  • Staying put pays off. Pays off a second mortgage, anyway. I only have one mortgage now! Yay? Woo. #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-14

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digesting the iPad backlash

There’s been an awful lot of hand wringing from some extraordinary minds about the “direction” of software because of the iPad. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the iPad, but in the other direction than most of the hand wringers.

1. They want all the highest technology, design elegance, thoughtful attention to detail, tried and true connectivity and sync ability of Apple designed hardware, but keep your filthy hands off their code! Hey, remember when Apple didn’t let you develop for the iPhone OS at all? Go try developing for the Playstation and see how cheap and easy that is for you. Developing for the iPhone OS is really inexpensive relative to other “nearly closed” platforms.

2. They want access to the largest possible audience, promotion, effortless infrastructure, simple credit card transactions, and user reviews. But not any kind of code review to make sure they’re not hiding functionality or exposing their users to risk. I believe Apple would call this “protecting the Brand” It’s probably good to remember that as a developer, you’re an invited guest piggy-backing onto their hard work. If you want to be associated with the Apple brand, you have to enhance the user’s experience, period.

3. They say absolutely nothing about what keeping the villains out costs. Or what the benefit is. Because apple’s done a good job of locking down the iphone to widespread hacking by black hats, they seem to view banishment of stupid apps as some kind of crime against humanity. Remember this fake banking android app? Yikes. Adhering to contractual obligations may not be something they’ll really take into consideration while complaining about developing for the iPhone OS, but Apple must take steps to ensure that some stupidhead (or malicious) 3rd party doesn’t screw everything up for everyone. Secondarily, keeping stupid apps out helps increase the discoverability of your app. Reducing the noise from the signal is *good*.

4. They complain about the app store being the only way to install software. Having an app store significantly reduces developer support time for installation and configuration to the end user. If you’ve never had to do that, you’re lucky. Having a zero-configuration installation process frees you up to spend your time building your next great app instead of having to help your mom get your app installed on her iPod Touch. No matter how simple a manual installation process would be, time spent helping your users install is time away from you making your next revenue stream.

5. They complain about all of these things like the rest of the world is going to instantly adopt this methodology of software development and deployment. That’s simply not the truth. Developing for the iPhone OS is *optional*, folks. Some people seem to give off the impression that Apple is forcing them to develop for the platform. It sounds silly to even have to point it out. We will never live in a world where you will be denied access to development tools for a tinkering platform. Honestly, it’s preposterous.

The end result is that Apple doesn’t have to justify the costs to join the developer program, or the procedures. You either grow up and realize that the marketplace revolves around rules — not trust, or you can go play in your own sand box. If you hate the rules, just wait a few years while the rest of the industry slowly does their inevitable imitation act, and then you can deploy your cool idea onto a platform for like minded people. I’m choosing the biggest market and the rules that come with it. It’s just not that hard to deal with.

So this “war against tinkerers” rings completely hollow for me. The iPhone OS is for when you’re *not* at your desktop or laptop. Not *instead* of your desktop or laptop. If you can use the iPad instead of a desktop/laptop, you probably don’t care about this debate anyway. You’re not a tinkerer. You’re a consumer. If you’re a self-identified-tinkerer, you’re going to use producer tools, not consumer access devices.

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specifically, Marcel Dettmann on CLR podcast:

specifically, Marcel Dettmann on CLR podcast:

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-07

  • Omg rock bottom brewery's seasonal ipa "h-bomb" is phenomenal! ( assuming h is for hops). #beer #
  • Hey Michael Jackson fans. Tell *all* your friends, I'm not the attorney general for Los Angeles. I'm an engineer in silicon valley. #
  • Hundreds of Twitter apps and not one that lets you block tweets by key words. Think outside the API, folks. #differentiation #
  • Beatseqr software and firmware is now open source: #
  • Eagle should be priced by the layer instead of by the feature. I'm never going to produce more than a 2 layer board. 4pcb instead, I guess #
  • friggin' earthquakes! #
  • Friggen' adrenaline! #
  • almost everyone here felt it @sfearthquakes A 3.2 quake just happened 4 mi NE of Alum Rock, CA. ( ) #
  • Didnt we have a 3.03 earthquake today, too? RT @unsaturated: it's 3/03 yall #thisisacid (via @connerrrr) #
  • Not much difference to go from no selection to a nose election. #
  • Hey 4sq/gowalla/locaware user. You're screwing up the signal to noise ratio. #blocktweetbykeyword #unfollowingisnotagoodsolution #

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sCCweet! a midi CC randomizer

Hey, so I’ve been super busy with lots of cool stuff. I’m working on the Beatseqr project, and I’m also putting that to work with my band Haptic Synapses. And along with those projects, I’ve been building some interesting tools with Max/MSP. Here’s one that I’m calling “sCCweet!” and in this particular instance, I’ve tuned it to work on Reason’s Malström synth. (You can either say that as “skweet” or “schweet” depending on which kind of person you are.)

click through to see the quicktime movie with audio

So… why? Well, a lot of modern soft synths have a randomizer function, but Propellerhead doesn’t follow market trends. They try to influence them.. sometimes to a good affect, and sometimes to the effect of going in the wrong direction of the rest of us. Reason has some really awesome sounding synths, it’s just kind of… funky… about a lot of stuff. So you can either choose to accept the Reason reality as a foregone conclusion, or make your own reality. I prefer to make my own. :) Anyone interested in getting a copy of the max patch that does this? It’s not limited to working with Reason, it can work with anything that uses midi CC messages. Leave a comment!