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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Our provider of organic vegetables and fruit, Stephen, had invited us to visit his farm/garden. It was a really sweet summer afternoon (after weeks of cold rain) and East Clare looked its very best and greenest as we drove up along Lough Derg to Whitegate.

Several of Stephen’s customers showed up during the afternoon and various organic foods tasted and appreciated while conversing about life, the universe and everything.
It’s amazing to see how much can be done with a piece of land. If more people engaged in this practice, Ireland’s dependence on imports would be substantially reduced, it would be better for the environment and better for all people living here.
It is time to drop the idea of ornamental lawns, work the land and make food.

I’ve been using the excellent site and apps Audioboo for a couple of years. While other Audioboo makers provide stories, music, guiding, journalism or audio-blogs, I think all my Audioboo podcasts are SILENT.

This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for many years. In the mid-1960’s I read Heinrich Böll‘s story “Murke’s Collected Silences” and at that time I was fiddling with reel-to-reel tape-recorders, microphones, and in general exploring different perspectives of sound. Inspiration!

There are so many different forms of silence. A silence can be really quiet and peaceful, it can be really loud (I consider this silence as well, as you can’t have any purposeful or useful communication).

My Audioboos are available at the Audioboo site, and now also via iTunes podcasts.

Enjoy the silences!

Over the past few days I have noticed that even without having a browser window or tab with Facebook open, suddenly you get a pop-up warning that the browser cannot authenticate over a https connection. I find this quite alarming as this implies that either, some spyware that I haven’t identified and zapped yet has come onboard the computers in question, or, that Facebook are leaving some extraordinary crap behind until you close and restart your browser, or, that other web sites are trying to exploit security holes in Facebook.

Computers used: MacBook Pro/OSX 10.5.8 and iPad (version1) iOS 4.3.3
Browsers: Safari and Firefox.

Is anybody else noticing this?

(Why OSX 10.5: it’s what I have on one of my machines. I haven’t tested this on 10.6 etc yet)

Friday evening, we went to see the Old Irish Radio Show at The Loft @ The Locke. It was an interesting and entertaining take on how radio used to be in Ireland. Great venue!

Saturday started with 3Dcamp at UL with a number of interesting talks and demos.

I had to leave during the afternoon for a while as the Limerick School of Art and Design opened their end-of-year show.

I only had time to see about half of the exhibition and will have to get back there again during the coming week.

After this, back to UL for Prof. William O’Connor‘s highly stimulating talk about “Is the Internet changing your brain?”.

During the Sounding Object project, we researched and developed new approaches for sound on computers, responsive to physical interaction and easily matched to physical objects. One of the demos was the Vodhran, a virtual Irish Bodhran drum. The performers gestures are tracked using a Polhemus Fastrak 6-DOF electromagnetic tracker in realtime and the sound synthesized in real-time by our sound object models.

This summer, I’m planning to make another version of this, probably the Hodhran – a Hyper-bodhran, using a real bodhran, parts of a Wii controller, an Arduino and a few sensors (such as force sensitive resistors and bend sensors).

In the mid-1960’s, I first heard the sound of a synthesizer. When Wendy Carlos‘ album Switched on Bach was released in 1968 I was totally convinced that electronic instruments was the future. As I couldn’t afford to buy a real Moog, I spent a few years studying electronic engineering and telecoms to enable me to build my own, that I eventually used in my final year project in 1975. I think I’ve only one or two of the home-etched circuit boards left in some drawer. I had to disassemble the synth when I finished the final year project, as some parts were borrowed from physics labs, other parts designed and built by me (only recordings remain).

I was delighted today to find the Moog Foundation on the web. I fully agree with their vision that music, and in particular by using electronic instruments like the Moog-range, is an excellent way to get young people interested in art, science and technology. It is a very intuitive way to learn as you can start by exploring a few simple buttons and tweaking a few knobs – and immediately hear the result. The magic of this directness can then easily lead to a feeling of wonder about how it works. When you get onto that path of discovery, you can learn a lot about music, physics, electronics, maths, and a number of other things such as the importance of designing things so that they are suitable for human use. This is probably one of the most important aspects of Bob Moog‘s work. He worked together with musicians. While it is simple to get a knob to change the resonance frequency of a filter, the control curve (the mapping) has to feel natural to the musician (while it may sometimes be a difficult engineering problem to get the right non-linearity, especially when working with analog electronics).
So, here’s to Bob Moog, Wendy Carlos, and many others whose work and art I’ve enjoyed so much over the years, and still do. Let’s keep on designing, building, exploring and making.

I woke up this morning to blazing sunshine and blue skies. While having my morning cup of maté, I received an email that really mad me both sad and angry. Email is after all a very crude means of communication and while the sender probably didn’t intend to do damage, it did.
Later, while driving into Limerick city, despite the warm weather I closed the windows of my car and had a good 5 minute primal scream therapy while being patiently stuck in a queue. That somewhat helped. 20 minutes later, I tried to speak but my voice was almost gone! Now, several hours later, I think I actually managed to scar my vocal chords in my therapeutic attempt. So, anger and sadness is gone, but so is my voice for the time being.

Blue sky

Yesterday I borrowed a new gadget that we’ve received – a spherical mirror adapter for DSLR and Video cameras that allows you to take surround pictures.

The optics work well, but the UnWrap software has some bug when generating QuickTimeVR panoramas (at least the OSX version).