Finally home after an eventful weekend and it’s time to get back to work on the album. I want to thank everyone who made it out to the shows and Ghostly for making it all happen, it was a great time all around. banx_zor got some great shots of the SF show at Mezzanine (posted above). If you have any more of the SF or LA shows let me know! As you can see in photo 2 above, Dusty Brown made a rather animated cameo during the set, thanks to him for tearing it up on the keys. Our very own Alex Cornell also turned in a great performance on a couple guitar tracks (3rd picture down). For those who were wondering, the last 2 tracks I played in each set were new songs, the final one being a single due out shortly on Ghostly International. I’ll keep you posted.
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So it’s late 2008 (what happened?) and I’ve now entered a new chapter in my never ending quest for the ideal OS for design and music. If you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know that I’m a lifelong Windows user who recently got a Macbook pro, my first official Apple computer. I still use Windows to create music and design, but I have my Macbook for all the other stuff: blogging, surfing, listening to music, traveling, etc., etc. I would love to switch to Mac for music and graphics as well, but the program I use for recording music, Cakewalk Sonar, is Windows only. So unless I want to start from scratch and learn a new DAW software like Logic, I’m pretty much stuck with PC for better or for worse. That being the case, I was pretty excited when Windows Vista first came out, I had read a lot about the enhancements they had made to the OS and at that point, XP was really showing it’s age. But as we all know, when Vista finally did come out it was a bitter disappointment for many, myself included. I plunked down $350(!!) for Vista Business 64-bit edition right when it came out only to find that it was a complete mess. Bad driver compatibility, unstable operation, security holes: you name it, Vista had it. So I reluctantly went back to XP, thought I’d wait it out and let the hardware manufacturers catch up and write new, more stable drivers for Vista. But that didn’t work out so well either, after about 6 months of waiting I installed Vista again with similar results. Add one more, XP-wait-reinstall cycle and that was it for me, I finally put it to rest and retiring the install CD to the storage closet with all the old dusty manuals, floppy disks, and other computer ephemera that I can’t seem to part with.
Fast forward a year: SP1 for Vista is out, a lot of hardware makers have more mature drivers available (MOTU being the most important to me), and 64-bit Photoshop has become a reality thanks to CS4. One day I was talking with my friend Dusty Brown and the subject of Windows came up. Like me, he uses a Mac laptop and a PC desktop. One for daily tasks, one for recording music and graphics. He said he had been using Vista for a while and that it had been working out great for him. This got me thinking, was the time right to finally put that 8GB of ram in my desktop to use? The allure of 64-bit Photoshopping was just too much to resist. So I bit the bullet and installed Vista on my main desktop for the fourth time. It has now been about a month since I did and I can honestly say I am very, very impressed. Perhaps I am only relatively impressed given my past history, but this time around Vista has been super stable (albeit very subjective, I’ve counted 0 lock-ups or crashes in Vista compared with around 8 on my brand new Macbook Pro). Photoshop has been tearing through files, I’ve noted a marked improvement in file opening speed, screen redraws, and overall performance. And perhaps most importantly, when I open the preferences in Photoshop and go to “performance”, the RAM slider goes all the way up to 7224 MB (see image above). It’s ridiculous to think how long it took for that to become a reality, but here we are. Some might argue that I am merely experiencing the benefits of using a 64-bit OS and that Vista itself isn’t really central to my overall satisfaction. Perhaps, but I used Windows XP 64 for about 6 months earlier this year and it was a buggy mess, nothing even approaching the stability and performance I am seeing in Vista. A quick note on configuration: I disabled a lot of non-essential services (as I always do with Windows) and turned off all visual effects and security services. Point being that fresh out of the box, your mileage may vary with Vista, it takes some tweaking.
But as with everything, it’s not all roses. DRM, for one, is not doing Vista any favors. Apparently Microsoft, being the paragon of freedom and privacy that they are, decided to embed DRM (digital rights management) at the core of Vista, to the extent that it scans each and every bit moving through the system to check for copyright information. This can slow certain operations down and cripple others completely. Fortunately, it’s most obvious effects are limited to file copy/transfer and are somewhat sporadic, so they don’t really impinge on my day to day workflow. Let me qualify that information though by stating that it is merely internet rumor at this point (well documented rumor, but rumor nonetheless), to date, MS has made no official on whether or not they have integrated DRM into the OS.
So yes, I bought the hype and listened to all the Vista haters for a long time. And maybe they were right, but the key word here is “were”. It’s almost 2009 and I am here to say that Vista is all growed up. So yeah, there it is, take it or leave it. Anyone else using Vista 64 with CS4? What has your experience been?
I just got home from Terrabyte after a nice drive today; LA > Sacto > SF, needless to say I am exhausted so I’ll keep it short. Terrabyte was amazing as usual; thanks to everyone who came out and made it a success and thanks to the Arboretum and Kyle and Ryan from Subtractive for making it all happen. I also want to apologize for the delay getting started, as some of you noted, we had some technical difficulties starting out, but things smoothed out once things got rolling. I was pretty busy most of the time so didn’t get many good photos this time around, some of the few I got are below. Bijan has also posted some photos from the show here.
Steve workin’ it at the booth.
Zac Brown! (Guitars, Dusty Brown)
Somewhere in the middle of the central California valley.
I found some early videos from the show on YouTube, below is a shot of some of the visuals. I didn’t realize this girl (video below) had been dancing in the visuals until after the show was over, pretty cool to see this now. There is also a video of the new single being played; the audio is really bad and you can’t see much, but it’s a small taste at least: link. There are a couple more from the same person up here as well.
I just finished up the poster / flyer design for the third annual Terrabyte event (click the above image for a large version). This is the first work I’ve done since the Obama poster and it was a nice chance to get the wheels turning again. The spec was pretty open, just had to include the themes of Nature / Technology / Art. I went for a sort of 60’s modernist infographic approach, like a page from an old physics textbook maybe. This was also the first chance I got to use one of my favorite new fonts: Hellenic Wide. The face was really a pleasure to work with, it cuts a nice line and sort of acts as it’s own divider so there wasn’t much need for all sorts of lines and spacing. Time permitting, I’ll post a small "making of" on this in the coming months. The poster will be available for purchase online in the next couple months and I am hoping to have some early copies available at the show itself.
For those of you into nuclear physics, the imagery is supposed to represent a critical mass, as in everyone coming together and then and explosion (of the aural/visual kind, not atomic). Poster design aside, try to make it out to this event if you’re in the Southern California area, it’s sure to be a great evening of music and visuals, I’ll be playing a set as Tycho and doing some live video / visuals as well.
Terrabyte is officially described as a "unique celebration of nature, technology, and art". Translation: A great evening in the Los Angeles Arboretum out on the green listening to live electronic music and viewing visuals on huge screens. All ages are welcome; it’s a $10 donation to get in and all proceeds go to the Arboretum preservation fund. There’s a bar for those 21 and up and a lot of exhibits to check out. An architecture school builds this massive array of projection surfaces that stand about 30 ft. tall to fire the visuals on to; it’s a pretty amazing sight. Needless to say, it’s a great time and well worth the ticket price. If you missed the past 2 years, now’s the time to make it out, this will be the best one yet.
Date: September 14, 2008
Location: L.A. County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Entry: $10 Donation
ALL AGES SHOW
See you out there!
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Here’s an incredible video of Elliott Smith apparently recording Angeles live in a living room. Amazing that they’re getting such great sound from one mic picking up both the guitar and the vocals. I use 3 mics just to capture one acoustic guitar, which might be overkill. I have been experimenting with mic’ing drums using just one condenser room mic placed at a good distance and a dynamic on the bottom of the snare only with decent results. (thanks to Dusty Brown for that technique)
Couple Flickr shots from the MOMI show in Chicago last Saturday. Top two are from Whateverland and the bottom one is from Mark Wisniowski. That’s Dusty Brown on the left in the duo shots, if you haven’t checked out his music yet, get on it! Sent in Via Anthony Ciannamea.
I know this falls a little outside the normal scope of this blog but it’s Friday and this was too good to pass up. The Parrot ARDrone is being billed as the “First iPhone-Controlled Quadricopter Drone”. There’s no need to go much further than that for me, but add a camera to the helicopter and camera-view mode to the iPhone and I’m sold. The most amazing part of it all is the craft’s ability to right itself automatically using it’s built-in array of sensors (not to mention the potential for augmented reality applications given the manufacturer’s third-party development scheme) . It’s not out yet — the site says “coming in 2010” — and no word on pricing but I can’t imagine it will be very cheap. I think I’d be willing to splurge on something like this as long as it was cheaper than the iPhone itself. For more info check out this hands-on test of the ARDrone.
While the Quadricopter and it’s iPhone interfacing abilities are pretty incredible, I wish they had made an airplane version (although not sure the WiFi range would be sufficient for that), small R/C helicopters seem like they’re mostly for bothering dogs and tooling around your living room, not really as suited toward outdoor flight as the video suggests. When I worked at BKWLD with Dusty we got a couple of R/C planes and would fly them at lunch in the open spaces of Roseville. I loved those things, I don’t know why but R/C never seems to get old, I think I was about as excited every time I took that thing out as I was the first time I got an R/C car for Christmas. Since I moved to San Francisco I haven’t been using it; I think it’s in a closet somewhere. I bet the batteries are shot but I might get some new ones and take it for a spin at the park this weekend.