Maybe It Won’t Be That Long

Ok, so in just a few hours after my last post, I did some more research into various weblog and BBS software, and got Movabletype installed on my server. It’s a very cool piece of software. I didn’t realize. It’s not all that different from iBlog–though it definitely has a lot more “bells and whistles.” The authoring software just runs on the server as a set of perl scripts instead of on your local machine. But then it generates all the pages. I was thinking it was going to rely more on pages that we generated “on the fly”. That’s how a PHP-based system like Geeklog would work.

So this is good. I should have a pretty darn fast site with the most of the content on the pages being hard coded. All of those slow downs I experienced because of offsite content generation won’t exist because it will be handled by my own server. Plus with full pages of HTML existing on my site, there shouldn’t be any problems with search engines.

I’ve already managed to get all of my posts converted over. There’s still quite a bit of work to do though. I have to get my templates working so that I have my “Halloween” style back. Plus I have to figure out if there are any plugins I want to install to add even more functionality to my site. And I have to go and make up some document referrers to point the old pages to the new ones, and a good “404 page not found” to help people transition over to the new version.

One Part Panther, Two Parts Sound, Mix Thoroughly

I spent most of another day with Cameron today. Dana, his wife, is always making jokes like “So when are you moving in?” They are such great people.

We were setting up his second Pro Tools system in his office / guitar room at his house and I found out some interesting things. We were able to get Pro Tools 6.2.3 working on a Mix Plus with Panther. Here’s the specs:

  • Power Mac G4 1.25GHz (OS 9 bootable “Speed Hole”)
  • OS X 10.3.3
  • Pro Tools | 24 Mix Plus Hardware
  • Pro Tools 6.2.3 Software
  • Aurora IgniterX Lite video card with 6.2.2 drivers

Digidesign has not officially qualified Mix hardware for use with Panther and the 6.2 software. The setup that we have on our systems at Fox is Pro Tools 6.1 and OS X 10.2.6. Panther is so much nicer, I’ve been dying to use it for work. Digi does say though that they haven’t experienced any problems in early testing on the Mix hardware.

So we thought we would give it a shot since we’re not on a show right now. Pro Tools seems to function fine under basic usage. I was able to create a new session. Import some guide tracks and a movie. Play, scrub, shuttle, lots of fast starting and stopping, basic cutting and fades all worked. Now obviously a “real” session has many more than two tracks–lots of files and edits and fades. We haven’t beat on it very hard but so far it’s working well.

They also have finally fixed the Grid Mode bug that’s been in 5.3, 6.0 and 6.1 where zooming way in would cause the grid lines and the Feet and Frame timeline to disappear.

I did encounter a problem with the Digidesign Core Audio drivers. When you select “Digidesign HW” in either Sound Output or Sound Input, the name changes to “Digidesign HW (Mix)” which is good. However, none of the options appear like setting the sound level or left / right balance or anything. Also when “Digidesign HW” was selected in Sound Output, iTunes would only intermittently work correctly. Sometimes I was able to play songs fine. Other times you’d hit play and a blank window would pop up that said “Hardware Setup” in the title. The song wouldn’t play and you’d have to Force Quit iTunes to get out.

I’ll keep you informed as we discover new things. I would welcome any comments from anyone with their own experiences of Mix hardware, Panther, and Pro Tools 6.2.

I Don’t Think I’m The Only One

Eyeball with heart inside

This is gross. My eyes are screwed up as it is. I got my first pair of glasses in the 3rd grade. There is NO way I’m going to put “jewelry” in the “mucous membrane” of my eyeball!

Bob Dylan in a cowboy hat

Bob Dylan is not a good looking man. I’m sorry. “Blood On The Tracks” is one of the all-time greatest albums. I have a ton of respect for the man. But he should not be juxtaposed with girls in their underwear.

But I Don’t Want To

Sometimes it would be much easier if I could just accept things they way they are.

I’ve really enjoyed my time getting back into web development on this site. I like being able to type up a little something, click the “Post” button and away it goes to my homepage.

But I’ve found certain things to be rather frustrating. This program that I’m using, iBlog, is great if you just want to type in some text or post a simple image. But if you want to get your hands dirty with a little more HTML like a bulleted list or a blockquote or whatnot, it’s a bit difficult. You have to add extra tags around the HTML. And all the HTML has to be on one line with no returns. Plus iBlog isn’t so great in it’s Rich Text to HTML conversion. Instead of putting <p> and </p> tags around paragraphs, it uses two line breaks. <br /><br /> This isn’t the best form and then when you add in block HTML which has its own line returns built in like lists or blockquotes, you get 2 blank lines instead of one between paragraphs. So then you have to delete the extra returns between paragraphs. And that in conjunction with HTML with no line returns makes very unreadable text.

Plus I have extra features of my site added by outside providers. My search engine is by Freefind. Comments are by Haloscan. The Blog Roll is by Blogrolling, and I’m listed at Technorati. Several of these services use outside Javascript so if their site is down or particularly slow, my site doesn’t work well.

So of course I’ve been investigating other methods of running my weblog. Mac OS X is pretty cool in that it is a UNIX operating system. It comes with Apache web server and PHP already installed. So today I upgraded my PHP to the latest version and installed MySQL and I’ve been playing around with other ways of running my site. I’m thinking about using Geeklog. It’s still going to require a lot of testing but it seems promising so far. By using that instead of iBlog, I’ll be able to handle searches and comments on my own site. And quickly adding new bits of data like additions to a Blog Roll are very easy.

I haven’t decided definitely on what I’m going to do. I also want to look at phpBB, and I should also check out Movabletype–though that one is perl-based. We’ll see. I’m sure whatever I choose, a new roll out would still be several weeks away. So like I said, it would be much easier if I could just accept things the way they are.

I Need New Batteries For My Remote

Bioware, the company that created Neverwinter Nights, is kind enough to provide a Dedicated Server for their program. What this means is that you can download this application. Install a copy of any modules you have into it’s module directory, and run the server without needing another CD Key. Of course it’s dedicated which means you can’t play on that machine. That’s the whole point, you play on another machine and connect to the server.

However, on the Mac you have to have direct access to the machine to setup and run the server. After some recent posts to the Mac NWN forums, I’ve been contemplating various ideas on how to make a remote control for the server. This would allow you to change settings, like selecting which module to load, and not actually be in front of the server computer.

I’ve been playing with AppleScript UI scripting for several hours tonight and I’m banging my head against the wall. The major problem is that the Mac Dedicated Server does not seem to send the proper response to the system after it has run. With basically every Mac application, even ones that are not directly AppleScriptable, you should be able to send this command:

tell application "Dedicated Server" to activate

If the application is not running, it will run and come to the foreground. If it is already running, it will just come to the foreground. It is critical for the application to come to the foreground for UI scripting because you are simulating mouse clicks and menu selections. For some reason with Dedicated Server, the activate command will cause it to run, but then the AppleScript will hang. If the server is already running, the script will also hang on the activate command. You end up have to press Command-Period to escape out of it.

If the activate command would work properly I am convinced that I could quite easily come up with a remote control. All of the user interface elements show up properly when interfacing with AppleScript’s UI Element Inspector. In fact I can use that program to simulate clicks to the various buttons on the server interface. But because of that stupid activate command not working, no dice.


Another Day Another Doc

Session drummer turned aspiring filmmaker, Gary Gardner, met with Cameron and I today about a documentary he’s been working on for the last two years. It’s about an LA jazz club called The Baked Potato which opened in its doors in the early 1970s. Practically every jazz musician has played that club in the past 30 years. Gary was recently able to interview Lou Rawls about his experiences at The Baked Potato. I suspect he still has a ways to go before he gets this whole thing pulled together, and even though I’m not a jazz fan, this is one exciting project.

First there’s going to be a documentary with all these major jazz musicians like Al Jareau, Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton, and Robben Ford. (If I’m remembering the names correctly… again, I’m not the jazz guy.) Then there will be a live concert recording of these jazz musicians each playing 2 songs at the club. I think he was saying that he’s planning on 30 different artists. That concert will be released on CD and DVD.

So even though the classic rock documentary I was talking about recently is a little more my style, this one is very cool for including the concert. We’ve already been talking about doing the 5.1 DVD mix to give a true feel of a small club experience.

And A Bowl Of Noodles

Cameron and I also spent time today goofing around with some instruments of our own–Cam on guitar, I was on bass. I’ve been learning to play bass for a few months now. It’s so much fun. I’m never going to be great at it. In fact right now I’m definitely not good. I need to practice more. But bass is very cool.

That Leads To Your Door

I just got an email from my buddy Ben who’s taking off for Japan and Australia tomorrow. His girlfriend and her friend have already been in New Zealand and Australia for a bunch of months checking things out. So they’re reuniting in Tokyo which I’m very happy about. And thankfully we all get to read about it in their weblog, The Adventures of Katie and Emma.

We hung out a bit the other night when we went to see “Hellboy”. (And at some point I’ll finish up my review of it and post it here.) I told him that he had to bring me “ninja stuff” back from Japan.

Today is actually the one month anniversary of the new Monsters from the Id complete with weblog and swivel action kung fu grip.

“So I’ve got that going for me…. Which is nice.”
Carl Spackler

We Passed Upon The Stair

Everyone and their brother is talking about the fact that 10 years ago today, Kurt Cobain killed himself. You can check out Wil Wheaton’s take on it or numerous other writers over at Black Table.

I do remember exactly what I was doing when I first heard that Kurt was dead. I was in college trying to sleep after a late night party. It’s almost funny that I made my post yesterday about how much I didn’t like Daylight Saving Time. How difficult it was to cope with that missing hour.

April 5, 1994 I was trying really hard to cope with that missing hour, even if it was a few days before, and was losing badly. Back then I was the master of the snooze alarm. I could manage to hit snooze for 7 minute snatches of sleep for two hours straight. I don’t know how my roommate put up with me.

In those brief glimpses of semi-lucidity in between the blissful dark, I dreamed that Kurt was dead. When I finally decided to give up the charade and enter waking life, I continued to have the strangest feeling that Kurt was gone. I told myself it was just a dream and ignored it.

Of course the first conversation I had with someone started out with “Did you hear…” and I realized that I had actually heard from my clock radio that he had taken his own life. It was a surreal moment–bordering on deja vu. Even if it was only caused by lack of sleep.

I didn’t think much about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana at that time. I had burned out on them after the “Nevermind” deluge, and I steadfastly pretended they didn’t exist. But something about his death, the near-dream-state during which I found out about it, gnawed at me.

I was about six months later that the “Unplugged” album was released. The first time I heard his acoustic version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World”, I knew I had to buy that CD. An idea had been gestating in the back of my mind for months, and it hit me when I sat down and listened to the entire album. Nirvana was a great band. I had not allowed myself to pay attention to them because of all the hype that surrounded them, and so I missed out while he was still with us.

The People Behind The People

I had a meeting yesterday about a documentary. Denny Tedesco has been working on a documentary about his father, Tommy Tedesco, one of the most prolific Los Angeles session guitarists, and the other session musicians he worked with. People like Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye. The Wrecking Crew as they came to be known.

Denny has been working on this project for eight years collecting interviews, cutting his footage together, and trying to find investors and distributors. He showed a 15 minute promotional cut to Cameron, my partner in crime in sound, and I. It was one of the cooler documentaries I’ve ever seen. I had no idea.

We all know that The Monkees didn’t actually play their own songs. Tommy was the guitar of the Monkees. But what people probably don’t realize is how many recordings session musicians appeared on in the 60s and 70s. Hal Blaine claims to have played on tens of thousands of recordings during his time as a session drummer. If you look at a list of the recordings that Tommy Tedesco played on (which is definitely not complete), it will blow your mind. Practically every big American name from the 60s and 70s like The Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, Joan Baez, Pat Boone, J.J. Cale, Glen Campbell, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Doris Day, The Everly Brothers, The 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, Peggy Lee, Barry McGuire, Roger McGuinn, Harry Nilsson, The Partridge Family, Elvis, The Rip Chords, Linda Ronstadt, Sonny & Cher, and Frank Zappa.

Denny is getting close to pulling his documentary together. He has an editor who is going through the footage and helping him make a cut. But he wasn’t sure about the post-sound end of things–the editing and mixing. He came to us looking for advice.

This is one documentary I hope gets finished and made available to the public whether through film festivals, or PBS, or DVD, or all of the above. It is a fascinating story about the classic rock era and the people who made it happen. And I would consider it an honor to be able work on this project.

Spring Ahead

Note to self: Don’t stay up half the night watching movies when you’re going into Daylight Saving Time. Losing that hour is killer.

I love Standard Time. Gaining an extra hour is like finding five bucks in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn in a while.

Daylight Saving Time is setup to happen at 2am in the U.S. because most people are at home asleep or at least in bed at that time. When I was in college I had a late-night freeform radio show and the going into and out of DST was always an interesting experience. People who had a show that went on the air at 2am on the first Sunday in April would not be able to broadcast that week. The time just disappeared. October was the really unusual time because we had to decide what to do with that extra hour.

I wish we could always gain an hour. It would be like getting a free gift every six months.