tom moody

Archive for the ‘computers-R-stupid’ Category

Expert Sleepers ES-40 and expanders

These are the Eurorack modules described in a previous post, which make possible a fascinating hybrid of computer and voltage-based music synthesis at relatively low cost, if you have the patience and fortitude to get them to work.
The concept is that pitch, gate, clock, LFOs, and MIDI data can all be transmitted to a modular synth through a single SP/DIF (digital audio) cable coming from your sound card. Audio is itself a form of voltage and can be sliced and diced into smaller amounts to drive hardware; Expert Sleepers inventor Andrew Ostler has quite cleverly made all these signal distributions. As he points out, audio-based signals are "sample accurate," as opposed to USB or 5-pin MIDI, which are subject to micro-delays and "jitter," thus making it possible to keep several instruments in tighter sync than with normal MIDI outputs from your Digital Audio Workstation.

In practice, the routing of the audio to maximize efficiency in all these channels is perversely complicated, and changes constantly with new revisions to operating systems, DAWs, the equipment and the versions of the Expert Sleepers Silent Way plugin software that makes all this work.

One source of confusion is a design problem: the varied use of the sequence 1-2-3-4-5-etc:

You have expansion headers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (or more), depending on the unit. These headers are sometimes called slots and refer to physical (10 pin) connectors on the back of a module.

There are also output ports on the front of a module, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

Within the DAW, you have stereo channel pairs 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, with channels sometimes referred to by a single number.

The soundcard also has analog and digital channels, numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Stereo pairs 7/8 correspond to the soundcard's ADAT channels 7/8 (which may be identified in Ableton as channels 17-18).

You have Gates 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 on an expansion unit. A "gate" could refer to a synthesizer gate signal or it could refer to the port number on the expander.

You have Inputs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on the ES-4 Controller software. I think these refer to the above-mentioned stereo channels but within the Input section you have menus for each Input with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

You have Inputs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 on the ESX-8CV Combiner software and menus giving you a choice for each input of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

You have Output controls 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on ES-4 Controller software. I forget what these are for, and why there are five if a module has 5-8 output ports and 5-6 expansion slots.

The Silent Way Voice Controller has controls on its face that correspond to output ports 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 on the old, discontinued ES-4 hardware, and "hidden" output controls numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

And of course you have MIDI channels 1, 2, 3, etc (up to 16)

Small wonder constant confusion occurs on the forum threads regarding which of the above 1s, 2s, 3s, etc people are talking about and what they think they mean. (Couldn't something have been called A, B, C, etc?) Or whether they are speaking of an output, slot, header, or port. Some users are helpful and patient, others adopt a "of course, you don't know this?" tone. Which is insane.

- tom moody

February 17th, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Posted in computers-R-stupid

expert sleepers setup notes (2)

I made some revisions to my PDF of Expert Sleepers Ableton Setup Notes.

Expert Sleepers (UK inventor Andrew Ostler aka "OS") makes Eurorack modules that allow a computer to talk to other Eurorack modules, converting MIDI and audio events in a Digital Audio Workstation into control voltages that can drive modules in a rack.

At least, theoretically. The problem is making sense of a cloud of tutorials, demos, and user forum threads in an environment where (i) OS assumes you will fill in information gaps that you couldn't possibly know* and (ii) the products, DAWs, and operating systems in question are undergoing constant revision. My "notes" are a quixotic endeavour specific to Windows 7, Ableton 9[x], and a handful of modules at a certain stage of development, which means they need to be revised constantly and the sand castle may soon collapse. Possibly this is why I heard cricket sounds when I posted the notes on the ES forum; another reason might be consumers have already moved on to next in a constant stream of shiny new objects emerging from OS's workshop.

*Example: In a video showing how you can control several hardware synths and sequencers using pitch and gate cvs coming out of the ES-40, ESX-8CV, and ESX-8GT modules, OS shows a tantalizing glimpse of his setup in Ableton. You can see a series of "aux" channels that he doesn't explain or show the routing for. These are necessary to drive gates separately from cvs. The curious consumer must delve into forum threads to find answers, separating the wheat of Ableton/Windows solutions from the chaff of Logic/Apple solutions. Eventually I got it, and now need to add a new "Section C" to my notes.


- tom moody

February 17th, 2018 at 10:56 am

Posted in computers-R-stupid

Kara Hammond drawing + Discogs dedication


Artwork by Kara Hammond, from her blog.

I would like to dedicate this to the selfless, hard-working Discogs volunteers, who, no matter how wrong they are nor how shallow their reading of the Discogs rules, work night and day to keep the Discogs database free from corruption by removing the contributions of casual users who have not accrued vote power.

See also: hall proctors

- tom moody

January 17th, 2018 at 10:57 am

exhibition diary: the new CRT

One of the cathode-ray TVs I was using for GIF display in my Honey Ramka show failed shortly after the opening, emitting, as the gallery described it via email, "a distressing high-pitch sound from the back & a nasty burning smell."

A quick eBay search for a replacement uncovered this gem:


New in box, under $100. One thing I learned in my research is that many sellers of unwanted CRTs describe them as "perfect for retro gaming."
That makes sense for me, since I am using them to show looping animated GIFs with a strong "pixel art" component.
On unboxing the Magnavox (no, I didn't do an unboxing video) and connecting a DVD player I discovered this TV cropped about 5 percent off the left side of my perfectly-centered looping GIF. Not acceptable. This necessitated burning a new DVD with a slight offset to the right. My video editing software is too primitive to do this, so I had to do a Rube Goldberg sequence of: resizing the GIF "canvas" and overlaying the GIF slightly off-center; screen-capturing 2 minutes of the GIF looping as an .avi file; exporting the .avi in lossless mode to keep the pixels sharp (especially since the conversion to DVD muddies them slightly); loading the .avi into a Windows 7 DVD-authoring program called "DVD Flick" (hat tip Paul Slocum); burning to disc. Voila, a centered GIF on the Magnavox.

- tom moody

December 23rd, 2017 at 8:12 am

accidental art from [eric schmidt's company]

Clement Valla published an article on in 2012 that I missed about weird Google Earth "mistakes" (hat tip E.D.). Didn't realize (and kind of don't care) that Google uses a tabletop 3D model as an intermediary image between "satellite" and "street" views and imperfect translation "through" the CAD rendering creates deformed landcape incidents such as bridges that appear to hug the earth like snakes, rather than soaring in the sky.

As I wrote to E.D. in an email:

I missed that Rhizome [Valla] article. (It's funny that his commenters found the same effect on iOS.)

Some of the images are notably bizarre. Google should not be proud -- this is like their dirty linen. [As for their] 3D effect where the user switches from satellite view to street view and is taken on a bird's-eye thrill ride through time and space onto the tabletop of street reality: experiencing all that theatrical overkill in the course of something as mundane as looking up a local sandwich shop drives me a bit crazy.

Valla says they aren't glitches but they are! The mistake is using fake 3d reality as a conduit between photo views of sky and street. Why do that?

Weirdly squashed bridges I view as symptomatic of our not-ready-for-prime-time culture, which treats all innovation as a success regardless of whether it works.

Kind of like self-driving cars (speaking of squashed).

After sending the emails was doing an ordinary search and used it as an occasion to "freeze" some of those imperfect (but artistically tasty) "transitional" images.

Alex Katz and Wayne Thiebaud saw the future!


larger view



larger view


(detail of above)

related: Weird Stretched Zombie

tags: uncanny valley, don't be evil, accidental art, modernist painting

- tom moody

November 22nd, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Posted in computers-R-stupid

now with longer tweets

tommoody‏ @tommoody
4m4 minutes ago

was laughing retroactively at the Scott Kildall/Nathaniel Stern PDF about their project "Wikipedia Art" where they used the word "Brooklynite" as my identifying credentials, as in, those damn Brooklynites saying what is and isn't art

tommoody‏ @tommoody
17m17 minutes ago

i have a show opening Dec 15 at Honey Ramka gallery called "Pre-Post-Internet" -- might as well get out front and claim this turf

tommoody‏ @tommoody
20m20 minutes ago

if @furtherfield must break links in the name of website redesign "progress," could they please add, on the "Sorry!" landing page, the sentence "Any old links can be accessed on our archive by adding 'archive.' to the beginning of the URL"

- tom moody

November 21st, 2017 at 9:14 am

AI duh


- tom moody

November 14th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Posted in computers-R-stupid

the Trinet and the rest of us

Discouraging post from a programmer about what he calls The Trinet (the internet as dominated by Google, Facebook and Amazon). Whether you accept the premise or not, the post piles on statistics regarding big three dominance. Conclusion: "we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom." Vivid!

Crooked Timber commenter doug has a list of basic suggestions for avoiding the Trinet, the main one being staying off social media. Not vivid!

One of doug's recommendations is using Webpage Archive to take html snapshots of current webpages. Unlike Wayback/Internet Archive, which supposedly captures everything on the web, this utility allows users to save pages and then adds them to a searchable database. As it describes its mission: "This can be useful if you want to take a 'snapshot' a page which could change soon: price list, job offer, real estate listing, drunk blog post... Saved pages will have no active elements and no scripts, so they keep you safe as they cannot have any popups or malware!"

From August, a somewhat relevant Vice piece: "Rural America Is Building Its Own Internet Because No One Else Will." Wireless on top of grain elevators, etc.

Update: Paragraph three above added after posting.

- tom moody

November 2nd, 2017 at 9:11 am

crit of stallman crit

Actrons posted a critique of Richard Stallman that manages not to say what he objects to about Stallman or what he believes in opposition to Stallman.

The subject appears to be a large schism in Linux over the GNU public license. Actrons' evidence that Stallman is in the wrong appears to be that Stallman was inordinately cranky in a YouTube interview.

From Wikipedia and hints of content in Actrons' post, this apparently relates to mudslinging between "open source" and "free software" advocates over the license. Somehow the pendulum has swung and the free software group (Stallman) is seen as obstructionist and capitalist and the open sourcers are somehow not capitalist. Last I read about this, open source was a corrupted version of free software ideals because it allowed a proprietary system to borrow what it needed from unrestricted source code without giving anything back. Now it appears the GPL is impeding the open sourcers from doing something they want to do. Just thinking aloud -- more study is obviously required.

Actrons has done a good deed by offering a modified Windows 10 that doesn't report all your home activities back to the mothership. No link, since Actrons isn't linking to it from his blog -- spread by word of mouth, i.e,, bulletin board (hat tip rene)

- tom moody

October 30th, 2017 at 8:15 am

about that calligraphy class...

Ken Shirriff notes a bit of corporate self-puffery by Steve Jobs, back in '05, regarding the development of the Macintosh computer.
Jobs claims the first Macs had multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts because of a calligraphy course he took after dropping out of college.
Shirriff reminds us that the Xerox Alto computer, which Jobs saw in the late '70s, had these features.

Here's a detail of Shirriff's photo of the Alto he's been restoring, with Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford, where the "calligraphy" brag originated, typed in multiple, proportionally spaced fonts:


And Shirriff's detail from the above photo:


In fairness to Jobs, Shirriff adds that "[o]f course, Steve Jobs deserves great credit for making desktop publishing common and affordable with the Macintosh and the LaserWriter, something Xerox failed to do with the Xerox Star, an expensive ($75,000) system that commercialized the Alto's technology."

- tom moody

October 30th, 2017 at 6:25 am

Posted in computers-R-stupid