Red Echo

March 31, 2009

Someone has actually managed to one-up Dr. Megavolt: it’s the Imperial March, performed on a Tesla coil.

March 25, 2009

I’ve decided not to go to Burning Man this year. There are many other things I want to do this summer, and I already feel overcommitted. I will miss going to the desert with my friends, but I’ve gone five years in a row now, and I don’t have the drive for it this time. It’s a good time for a break.

March 20, 2009

I will be playing a downtempo set at the wedgwood co-op Re.New party tonight. This means I will not be going to the Circus Contraption show at Theo *or* the Random Rab/Manahan/Skoi show at Church of Bass. Oh, life – so much good stuff you can’t possibly take it all in!

Shpongle will play a DJ set at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland on the 12th of June, with Phutureprimitive. In this case “DJ set” means Simon Posford and a table full of computers; Raja Ram, the other half of Shpongle, doesn’t seem to travel much. I was about to explain how certain I was that I would attend, along with as many friends as I could persuade to come along, but it occurs to me as I write that I may have already made plans to go climbing in Yosemite that weekend… alas, spoiled for choice.

Later this year, on the 30th of October, Shpongle will be doing another of their every-couple-of-years all-up live extravaganzas, with a dozen musicians and a stage full of dancers and whatnot. I’ve never been but they are reported to be spectacular. This one is an album-release party – #4, “ineffable mysteries from shpongleland”. It’s one night only, at the Roundhouse in London. London, yes. I’m tempted anyway.

March 17, 2009

Ski vacation.
I spent the last week and a half in Whistler, up at the Godwins’ place. This is the trip Barry organizes every year, and it’s one of the highlights of my winter. The snow was pretty good overall, and the last ski day we started early and got first tracks on several inches of fresh powder. It really doesn’t get any better. My new skis are solid and responsive, and I felt strong and pushed myself pretty hard.

The cabin offered plenty of time to hang around and spend time with friends, in the evenings or on the days I didn’t ski. We had the full DJ setup, as usual, and I brought my keyboard & loop system; we had an all-night party each weekend. The place has a very communal vibe – we play music for each other, cook meals for each other, share spare gear and treats and backrubs and whatever.

I’m going to be playing a late-night downtempo set at the wedgwood co-op party this weekend. The project is going well: I still have some technical challenges to smooth out, but I can play an hour of live, improvised downtempo pretty much on demand, and people seem to enjoy it.

In hopes of adding uptempo dance music to my repertoire, I’ve just bought a new groovebox, an Electribe EA-1: it’s a two-voice mono synth with an interface very similar to the ER-1 drum machine I’m already using. The plan is to mix sequenced bass lines and arpeggios with improvised lead lines. It’ll be less free-form than my downtempo format, where all the synth parts are improvised, but dance music really needs a reliable groove. I ought to have plenty of room to jam on top of the sequenced parts.

Dawn’s organized another jam session tonight. I think I’ll bring my bass again, instead of the keyboard. There’s something pure and simple and fun about rocking out with the classic guitar/bass/drums/voice combo.

I’d hoped to spend some time working on Radian while I was up at the cabin, on days when I didn’t ski, but I did not end up having the energy for it. Work was pretty intense for the last couple of weeks and I guess I needed the time to rest.

I am thinking a lot about the design of the runtime support library and the “foreign-function interface”. I’d like to avoid bolting on a big chunk of C++ support code for runtime support; optimally the language would be self-supporting, able to run directly on the kernel API, or possibly on the C stdlib. I haven’t worked out how this could be done yet; building those low-level abstractions into the language seems to conflict with the immutable/functional core semantics.

Adam has been in touch with a buyer at Hot Topic recently, discussing the possibility of getting the Martianwear leggings into their online store. It’s pretty exciting, and I’m going to spend some more time soon working on that line. The next projects will be a girl version of the light-up hoodie, and a slimmer, lighter light pack design based on lithium coin cells.

Burning Man.
I still haven’t decided whether I am going to Burning Man this year. Many of my friends are making their plans, and I’m definitely tempted to join in, but I’ve gone five years running and I’m not sure I want to spend that much time and money this year. I keep telling people I won’t go unless I have an art project to build; now Barry’s talking about making a 24-foot lighted rubik’s cube, Gary, Jaime, Nell, & co are talking about an art car… and I’d still like to finish the bamboo/solar/LED tree-of-light project I abandoned a couple of years ago.

March 3, 2009

“Even if you’re designing for professional programmers, in the end your programming language is basically a user-interface design. You will get much better results regardless of what you’re trying to do if you think of it as a user-interface design.” -Alan Kay

March 2, 2009

Bright blue skies with little fluffy clouds on the way in to work; dry roads, not cold, air smelled clean. Couple of cute girls walking down the sidewalk grinned and waved as I turned the corner onto Galer. I felt good and rode fast.

I went over to Dawn’s place last night and spent a few hours jamming with her and Colin. On a whim, I brought my bass; I haven’t touched it in at least a year, but it was so much fun just rocking out that I never got around to unpacking my keyboard. It was nice and light and fun; we banged our way through a bunch of old familiar songs and had a good time.