Going Mac

So my laptop is essentially falling to pieces. That means it’s getting sent in for warranty work! In the meantime, I get to chronicle the adventures of being a dedicated iMac user for a while, and all that entails. I’ve been purchasing broken iMacs and fixing them up for the past few months, so I’m using one of them as my dedicated home computer now. Another is my current pet project: I bought it for $30, because of a supposedly nonfunctioning power supply. But it still turns on. Allow me to explain.

I took it apart and did a hardware reset, and lo and behold, it booted up! I figured that I could just reinstall Snow Leopard on it and call it a day. Unfortunately, not so. It boots, but doesn’t detect and hard disk or cd drive. Which is a problem. So I booted it into Open Firmware to try to reset the RAM and such. No go. I noticed that the computer said it was the year 2054 (I wish!), so I bought a new PRAM battery and put that in. No go. But at least now it says it’s 2001. I thought it might be a memory problem, so I tried booting the machine with separate memory sticks…still no good. At this point, I was stumped, and figured that the problem had to either be the logic board or really was the power supply, so I started looking into repairing or replacing them, and how to diagnose the issue. Unfortunately, the logic board replacement is right out – way too expensive for me. But I accidentally stumbled across an article that talked about problems with the capacitors on the motherboard and in the power supply. So I checked that out.

Turns out that there are indeed problems with the power supply! There’s a bunch of swollen and partially exploded capacitors. So I’m going to see if I can replace them myself before I go out and buy a replacement power supply.

Have you heard of the new OUYA console?

Being a technophile myself, I’m always reading up on the next technologies. I think I’ll theme Wednesdays as Wicked Tech Wednesday. Today’s wicked tech? I was looking through Kickstarter projects (more on the site itself some other day), and discovered it, unfortunately, too late to actually become a backer, otherwise I would have happily donated the money for an open-source console!

Basically, this is a whole new way of thinking about console gaming: it’s free. Any and every game on OUYA has to have at least some free-to-play portion. And they’ve made some incredible announcements recently, such as:

Game streaming

Partnering with Square Enix to launch Final Fantasy III on the console.

Music videos

Media management (meaning you can use it to manage your entire movie collection)

Stop and think about what that means for you. You can literally program your own games using the Android platform. That’s, frankly, incredible. Unfortunately, it may not be publicly available for some time, but for those of you who backed the Kickstarter project, you’ll be getting a console by March – and I have to admit, I’m kind of jealous. If you’re interested in more reading, here’s the OUYA Kickstarter page: OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console by OUYA — Kickstarter. Or you can mosey on over to the new OUYA.tv to check out the official site yourself.

So what’s new?

Well, I haven’t written absolutely anything at all in pretty much forever, so apologies to anybody who’s actually reading this. Life’s been pretty intense, but isn’t it always like that?

Anyway, I got bored today, so I decided to find a project to work on. I found something like this that I plan on building in the coming weeks. I think I’ll do a lapel mic, though. If it actually works halfway decent, it’d be sweet to use it for live shows.
Anyway, I’ll put up some photos and stuff as the work comes along.

A Lot to Catch Up On, Part 1: Android Apps and Music Production

So I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been incredibly lazy in writing. I have a lot of ideas to write about, and frankly, I don’t have them all organized super well.

First and foremost, I’d like to give a review of some totally awesome Android apps I’ve found in the market. I’m big on productivity and such, so you can bet how incredibly thrilled I was to discover when I got home that my phone was literally my new best friend, not because I would be talking to lots of people (I used to be really phone-phobic, but not so much after two years of calling people and talking to them in another language!), but because it would help me keep track of everything I wanted to!

Since I haven’t talked about music in forever and a day, I’m going to spend some time to introduce you to my favorite music apps in the market. There is an AWESOME potential here that is definitely untapped as of yet.

  • http://chordbot.com/ is the developer of the chordbot app. This thing is super handy, even in the free version! It basically is an automatic accompaniment that you can set to perform various chord progressions (and it’s got lots of options, mind you), and then pick a comping style to play them in, and then hear how they sound! This is great for songwriting, especially if you’re on the go and don’t have an instrument with you.
  • FingerPlayMIDI is another great app that can be found at <http://thesundancekid.net/blog/fingerplay-midi/>. This thing literally lets you turn your phone into a MIDI controller for use with various audio production workstations (DAWs) like ProTools, Ableton, Reaper, and a whole slew of others. I haven’t gotten much into using it, but the capability is there, and frankly, I’m excited to get it working well.
  • A similar app is called TouchDAW, can be found at  http://www.humatic.de/htools/touchdaw/. I know, I know, I’m throwing in tons of links and info, but this stuff is really cool! Honestly, who ever dreamed of the capabilities a phone would have ten years ago? I was stuck fascinated with my totally hardcore Gameboy Color and Pokemon. TouchDAW is similar to FingerPlay, but has a much more developed interface – which unfortunately, to get the best of it, you do have to pay. But it’s definitely worth it. In fact, it’s made me want to save up to get a tablet…just to use it as a dedicated MIDI controller and mixing board for my computer.
  • Also available is Wireless Mixer, which is exactly what it says it is: a handy app that lets you work on mixing projects wirelessly (apparently that isn’t a word…yet).
  • Heck, there’s even a free four track recorder you can download. You can literally write your music wherever you are! I haven’t got the pro version yet, but to be completely honest, the free version is all I’ve needed so far.
So there you have it: the results of my personal crusade for the best apps in the Android market for music production. Granted there are some bugs to work out in a few of them, and maybe advertisements and cripples in the software can be a pain, but stop and think about what this all implies: this is literally a revolution in the music production industry. Especially more so since the Android market is open for anyone to use, and most of the programming is done in Java, one of the easiest languages to learn.