Red Echo

June 30, 2008

Flexibility is bad design. Indeed. Make it work and ship it. Your users will tell you what you need to improve.

We threw a big party this weekend. It was “Heden High”: Stuart U. set up a yearbook photo studio in the basement, a team of cheerleaders did a “happy birthday Lesley” routine, and almost all of the guests came in costume. I was an English teacher, with pipe, tie, and houndstooth jacket, until the heat got to be too much.

I think it was around 8 AM when I finally kicked the last partiers out of my bedroom and went to sleep. It was a good time. I’m tired today.

Back at work, messing around with type unification for imported structs and enums…

June 26, 2008

Work has eaten my life. It has been difficult to adjust.

This paper by Andrew Appel argues that SSA form is equivalent to functional programming.

June 23, 2008

Seven Deadly Sins of Introductory Programming Language Design.

We discuss seven undesirable features common to many programming languages used to teach first-time programmers, and illustrate typical pedagogical difficulties which stem from them with examples drawn from the programming languages ABC, Ada, C, C++, Eiffel, Haskell, LISP, Modula 3, Pascal, Prolog, Scheme, and Turing. We propose seven language design (or selection) principles which may reduce the incidence of such undesirable features.

June 22, 2008

I bought a new mixer: an Electrix EDJ-6. It is a four-channel, DJ-style stereo mixer with built in effects. It is much bigger and heavier than my current mixer, which is not good, but it has a built-in, tempo-synced effects unit and a much better UI for the sort of music I am making. I will have to rebuild my music system around it but I think the result will be an improvement.

Adam and Janet had another barbecue on their roof deck yesterday. We had some beer and started talking, and decided that the solstice ought to be celebrated by blowing stuff up. Of course we are good law-abiding citizens, so we spent the rest of our evening drinking more beer and doing nothing in particular, but it did so happen that we saw a couple of guys (average height, dark clothes, nondescript appearance, didn’t see their faces) push a small pyro barge out into Lake Union and, after struggling with the wind, eventually set it alight. It flashed and banged and hissed and kicked up a lot of smoke and made us happy. We didn’t happen to notice which direction the two miscreants went.

After that we collected Ava and went out to the Noc Noc. Dancing, talking, and (more) drinking occurred.

Today I spent half an hour playing Hot Lava Monsters on the machinery at Gasworks with a pack of twelve-year-olds.

June 21, 2008

ducks in ballard

June 17, 2008

I spent most of last week being sick and not doing much. I did manage a load of laundry over the weekend, though.

I feel basically back to good health now, but we have to demo the project I’m working on for some manager guy tomorrow morning, and I feel a fair bit of pressure to make the code actually work.

Too many projects. I think I need to let go of the idea that I am going to get the Rocket Factory built up anytime soon. Perhaps I can take another run at it next fall. I’m also going to try to borrow a canopy to take to Burning Man, instead of trying to rig something up with steel pipe and parachutes. I think I will also skip the custom bolero-style half-jacket-with-backpack-harness I was planning for the angel costume, and just wear some white webbing over my silver-white vest. That way all I have to actually make for the costume is the laser-wing backpack itself.

Here’s a really nice CSS three-column layout with no fancy frills – looks like a great starting point for a whole variety of blog-style layouts.

June 11, 2008

A team at MIT has made news recently by converting a Porsche 914 to run on batteries. People have been making custom electric cars for years, but the growing popularity of hybrids has made such projects seem more credible, and slowly-but-steadily improving battery technology has helped solve range problems. Here’s an Alfa Romeo conversion based on forklift components, and an ultra-low-cost Geo Metro project, converted for all of $672. Want to build your own? Here’s how to get started.

Datamancer offers custom “steampunk”-style keyboards made of brass, leather, typewriter keys, and other vintage bits. They’re wildly expensive, of course, but awfully pretty.

June 10, 2008

I spent the weekend out in the Methow Valley at Critical Massive. The location was a bust, and created a lot of organizational problems that made the whole thing less fun than it could have been, but it was a pleasant weekend with good people and nice scenery. I didn’t bring an art project this time, but I did play music for an hour, which seemed to be well received.

The weather was terrible, though, and after a frigid, windy, sleepless Saturday night I came down with a cold. I had intended to drive home Sunday, but ended up stopping at a motel in Cle Elum around 9 PM because I was too exhausted to continue. I staggered through a day of work yesterday, but called in sick today, and hopefully I’ll be reasonably fit again tomorrow.

June 7, 2008

Critical Massive

June 6, 2008

I’m getting packed up for Critical Massive. I am on the schedule for 12:30 today, but that is obviously not going to happen (ask me sometime, there’s a rant). I may end up covering the second half of Jen Wagner’s set tomorrow, if she’s not feeling well, and will play for sure at 2 PM on Sunday. I will also have my gear set up at Fight Labs so I can play during the afternoons.

Weather looks terrible. I am going to stop by the Rocket Factory on the way out and pick up our 50,000-btu kerosene shop heater…

June 5, 2008

Once again I am trying to do too many things at once. I don’t really know how to prioritize my creative projects. I want to do everything, and I want to do it all right now. I feel like really good things would be within reach in a few different areas if only I could muster a few extra hours a week to put into each of them. I have a sketchbook full of clothing designs ready to implement… my improvised-live-electronica project is finally working, after all these years of noodling… I have a whole series of sewing & electronics workshops planned, on hold until I get enough time to finish building out the Rocket Factory… the Rocket Factory itself could grow up into a much more interesting community resource if I only had the time to develop it. Then there are the art cars, installation pieces, laser projects, midi tools, and video-synthesis algorithms I’m not even trying to work on, but which are all still kicking around in the back of my head, looking for an opening.

My day job is going well enough, but I’m not getting much of a creative charge out of it yet. I suppose I will probably never be able to take this product and its user community to heart the way I did with REALbasic, but I’d still like to get a little more out of the activity that occupies most of my day.

I don’t know whether I need to shift my activities around to better match my true priorities – whatever those are – or whether I just need to take a longer view. I just feel caught between a furious creative drive that will not shut off, and the implacable limits of a 24-hour day.

June 3, 2008

Here’s a recording of the downtempo set I played Sunday night at the “Accelerant” fundraiser. It’s a 54-megabyte MP3, just under 59 minutes long. This is a completely unedited recording of an improvised live performance, so there are plenty of rough edges, but it was a lot of fun to play and people at the party had a good time, so I’m happy with it. Give it a listen, if you’re curious – feedback is definitely welcome.

Want to take bets on how long those supplies are going to last?

June 2, 2008

Mars makes music

Dawn got this photo of me playing last night. It went really well. I recorded most of the set and hope to upload it tomorrow.

June 1, 2008

I’m all keyed up. There was some kind of miscommunication about the PA system for the venue tonight, so I’ve spent the afternoon running around collecting cables, mixers, speakers, and the like. I’m trying to chill out now and think about what to wear. We will start setting up in about an hour. The show is at 1022 1st Ave South, and my set starts at 7 PM. Please come by! I’m looking forward to this.