Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stop TPP

tl;dr: Yesterday in the State of the Union Address, the President called for a fast track for trade agreements like the TPP. This is something that, if I had been better informed by my government and my media, I would have been opposing since day one. Here’s the link I want to spread around..

Stop the TPP

I hate discussing politics as a general rule, but this is important. The TPP (similar to its predecessors SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA) is marketed in a very limited way to the public as “protecting creator’s rights” and “cracking down on copyright infringement and piracy.”

As a content creator, free software supporter, musician and consumer, I will say this: As it is today, the TPP was conceived in secret, negotiated in secret, and something those in power are trying to keep a secret as best as possible from the general public. A fast track will allow them to do this, and the current TPP will do nothing but hinder the creative process and progress of musicians, programmers, consumers and artists, internationally, for the conceivable future.

Yesterday, through services already in existence and completely in line with the law, I was able to enjoy musical, artistic, and written content from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the Americas. The content creators (those who would have it, anyway) all received compensation from me in the form of micro-donations or through simple e-commerce.

The TPP would prevent me from being able to do this, and would prevent the creators from making this possible. Furthermore, any service like (bandcamp or soundcloud, youtube or newgrounds) that helped people to do this kind of independent publishing would be subject to incredible amounts of scrutiny and ultimately would be forced to undergo immense change or close their doors entirely.

And I haven’t even touched on how difficult developing for a Free/Libre and Open Source Software OS like GNU/Linux would be.

Simply, the TPP will destroy the delicate balance that makes the Internet and its culture so great. Remember when Videos on the Internet didn’t have ads at the beginning? Remember when Facebook didn’t insert targeted ads and suggestions between Your friends’ posts? Remember when Youtube didn’t constantly ask You to use Your real name?

Remember when You could download an Ebook, Image, Video or Song without DRM, and play or read it wherever and whenever You wanted?

Remember when new artists or musicians or programmers didn’t have to jump through legal hoops just to publish their own content… or to enjoy other’s contributions?

I do not want to be a part of a sinking ship. Please voice Your opinion by following the link below, and stand up against the TPP.

Stop the TPP

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

[Captain's Log] January 2014 - My New Writing Process

tl;dr: When I write a post, it starts as a kramdown file on my phone, moves to dropbox, is compiled on one of my other computers, sanity checked afterwards for content and layout, and then posted.

cdr255 logo

It has been quite some time since I have posted on here. I have decided in the interim on a few changes, the most noticable to You all is the delay at which I will be posting: This post was written on the 26th of December, not the 7th of January.

But the most noticable change to me has been the remarkable change to my writing process. I now have a multistepped chain that nearly all of my blogs will eventually be using. I am using this post mostly to codify the process, for when it eventually breaks down and I need something to remind me about how I am supposed to be doing this.

First of all, it starts on my phone. I recently have come into the possession of a bluetooth keyboard, which allows me to type quickly and accurately on my Android Phone (a Samsung Galaxy III Mini). I use a free application called Markdrop to organize the text files and upload them to Dropbox.

This moves the finished files downstream to my computers, all of which run some version of Slackware GNU/Linux. Kramdown, being a parser written entirely in Ruby, doesn’t really need Linux in order to work… but I do.

I then check them for sanity: try all of the links, make sure the image link (which uses Imgur, by the way) is displaying correctly, do some quick spelling and grammar checks.

After this, it is a simple matter of copying the html5 code from the text file to the Blogger dashboard, adding the labels, and sharing the post so people can see it.

This process lets me blog from whereever I am, and (hopefully) will result in a semi-regular update schedule. I no longer need to spend a full hour in front of the computer in order to produce a post: now, I only need my phone and a few free minutes here and there.

Let’s see how this works.

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated,

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Experiences with the Nintendo 3DS

tl;dr: I talk about my experiences with owning a Nintendo 3DS, and the few games I have purchased for it so far. Quick Glossing over, with FRIEND CODE at the end! =D

A Line of 3DS systems

Nintendo. That giant of a company which saved the Video Game industry in the Early 80’s and has yet to truly been dethroned from the main stage.

(As a side note: I am not feeling well. But I promised myself I would post today, so I am doing my best.)

I’ve posted a few times on here about my DMG-01, which was the original gameboy. Well, recently, I purchase the latest in a long line of Nintendo Handhelds, the Nintendo 3DS. And I have to admit, a lot of things about it really impressed me.

They have always been able to get a kind of aesthetic which is completely different from anyone else in the industry, and this is very prevelant on this system. The best analog I can come up with for it is the Apple iLife atmosphere, which I dislike. Nintendo, at least for me, does it better.

Anyway, aside from the UI: The system has a very quick charge time and a fairly long battery life. And yes, it has a (very easy to replace) lithium battery, and a charger which can be lost in transit. It has stereoscopic cameras on the front, and another which faces the player, so the surrounding environment is easily usable in game. Sound quality is good, although it does have that consumer electronics high pitch hum when I plug it into my PA.

Overall, I am happy with it. a good ~$150 investment, I would say.

Really quickly, I would like to also highlight the three cartridge based games I picked up for the system, as well as the two virtual games I have from the eShop. One or two sentences each, I promise.

First, I bought Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers the day I obtained my system. If You like late 90’s ATLUS jrpgs with a slight monster breeding element slipped in (which I happen to think are awesome, by the way), You are in luck! A fun game with a compelling story, and full voice acting. Also, the first time the game was released in English.

A few days later, my brother went back to college, accidently taking my SMT: DS: SH cart with him. So, I went out to buy Fire Emblem Awakening… but the store I went to was out of that particular game (which is the next one on my list to buy). So instead, I decided on Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. If You have never played Monster Hunter 3, This version is the most mature and satisfying of the few different releases, and it is portable. You go out into the wild, completing the Guild’s quests by slaying wild monsters… which look realistic, not cartoony at all. A very fun game.

Finally, the reason I had to get a 3ds right now: Pokemon Y. If You do not yet have one of these games, get it as soon as You can. This is the first Pokemon game I have really been able to get into since first gen, and it is awesome. All of the new stuff they have added since then makes the game completely different from the ones it came before, and it is just a lot of fun to play. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and in case You wanna be friends on the 3ds, my FC: 2165-6143-4310. You can email me Yours, or comment below.

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sound and Vision: Drivers (NVidia Edition)

title: Sound and Vision: Drivers

date: 2013-09-23, 12:47:44

in_menu: false

tl;dr: I set up my HP Pavilion dv9000 computer running SalixOS to use the proprietary Nvidia Drivers using this guide, and documented the process.

The Nvidia Logo

So, because my system doesn’t have enough problems as it is, I decided to install the proprietary Nvidia drivers for GNU/Linux.

The guide I followed was for SalixOS, and can be found here. There were a few steps, however, I want to elaborate on, that I am sure will help me when I wipe the slate clean and start over again.

First thing is first: Updating my system to the latest version of everything. For me, this meant finally switching over to a kernel, and updating a few silly packages. You don’t know what will react badly with the new driver, so You might as well have everything at the highest version possible.

This was no problem for me. I usually keep my computer completely up to date. I have been toying with updating the kernel and fixing my LILO setup for a while, just haven’t had a really good reason to do so and break my workflow. Now, I do.

Reboot for Sanity of the System.

Next, I had to track down the latest version of the Nvidia driver. I am definitely the kind of person to install the latest updates, but I do prefer the choice, and it seems they do give it to You. I chose the “Latest Short Lived Branch Version,” which at the time of this writing was 325.15.

Blacklisting the nouveau driver, which is the one I have been using up til now, is a bit more difficult: I was able to downgrade to the blacklist file using gslapt. Just search for “xf68-video” and You’ll see, there are about 10 of them in the repo as I write this. Downgrade that, and Your blacklist file is installed.

After that, the guide says to install the kernel source. Well, I already installed it along with the new kernel, so I am done here. Moving on.

Reboot one more time, and don’t bother logging into the GUI. Instead, hit C-M-<F1> (Ctrl-Alt-F1) and log in there.

Finally, installing the driver itself. This was fairly simple, just following the prompts and waiting. Then, reboot, and voila!

The Nvidia Installer

Or, it would have been voila, if I had remembered to reinstall LILO. Don’t worry though, if You forget to as well, there is an easy way to fix that.

Simply boot into some kind of live version of GNU/Linux (I chose the install disc for Slackware) and mount all of Your drives. Change Directories to the partition which is usually Your root partition, and then type “chroot .”. Do this as root. Then, install LILO as normal, from the command line.

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bass Time

title: Bass Time

date: 2013-09-12, 15:34:23

in_menu: false

A Closeup of my Bass's Knobs and Saddle.

I have been playing the bass for just over one year now.

I am very glad I purchased it. I can think of only a few other things I may have chosen to do with that money, and all of them are doable for me in the near future. And, for electric music like Rock, I much prefer the bass to the guitar. I dunno, it just suits my personality and creative profile, more, I guess.

I hadn’t truly played the instrument for a few months, because of a _Really bad audition. For whatever reason I was made to believe that I couldn’t even tune the instrument properly, and then (when I disproved that notion by tuning to the right notes with three separate tuners) told that my bass has bad intonation.

I have since checked, rechecked, and rerechecked the intonation on my Bass and can find no standing problems, provided that I do not press too hard on the strings (which I have found to be a bass thing in general, not something specific to my instrument… kind of like scallopped guitars).

I also have found two projects to work on, which I am very greatful for. Without them, I may not have picked the bass up again in 2013.

Anyway, I played for three hours last night, and plan on another two tonight. Just like the harp and the concertina, I am going to shoot for 10-12 hours of practice a week, on average. If You would like to see the pieces I play for practice, check them out here, on my main website. I update that list (almost) every time I practice, and try to add to it regularly.

Which leads me to my question, for this blog post. If You play Rock Music of any kind (or Jazz, really), what are some tunes I should add to my practice regimen, that will help me to become a better bassist? Leave those suggestions in the comments below, or You can tweet them at me, if You would prefer. All suggestions will be responded to!

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arranged Carriage

title: Arranged Carriage

date: 2013-07-17. 10:20:29

in_menu: false

A Piece of Sheet Music

My website was recently updated to have a new section: Arrangements. (I’ll be honest, I did the updating myself… But it sounds better in my head to say it that way.)

Arrangements, as opposed to Compositions, are Your own interperetations of other people’s works or traditional music. In other words, they are works that I am presenting my own version of, but they are not strictly “by me.”

You may immediately jump to the conclusion that I am now running some evil kind of sheet music trafficking business now. I assure You that this is not the case… for the most part. (kidding)

I am trying to make it easier for other people to learn the music I love. The majority of these tunes are going to be Early Music, which is Western music published sometime before the advent of Classical music (so, the latest it would have been published is 1750ish, and the earliest is probably somewhere around 700.) These tunes I am not worried about in the slightest: My little bit of work here is keeping these 300+ year old tunes alive, and I am fairly sure they are out of copyright by now.

My worries lie in the other section: VGM, or Video Game Music.

Now, first of, I am a huge fan of Video Games. They are, and have been, a large part of my life for quite some time now. However, I see a trend here which is upsetting to me, at least in America: Older video games are dying (or being completely redone, changed, and “updated” which I don’t really like either, but at least they aren’t dead).

This is something I have unfortunately seen happen to a few of my favorite games in the past, and I hate that it has to happen. But I can’t do anything about it, really… I do not own a publishing house equipped to keep these games alive.

I do, however, know how to listen to a learn music. The music in a game can make or break it, to me, and it is probably the most important factor in me liking a game or not, with a few notable exceptions.

Most people never pay attention to the composer or even the music passed “Oh, that sounds nice.” To me, it is something I listen to in my car or while I work, and I hate hate hate to see my favorite pieces be forgotten among the overlooked.

And so, I learn to play them. This is fine, and fun, and great practice on my Harp. I am even working on recording some videos of me playing some of these tunes, as another project on the side. But it would be even better if I could hand someone a sheet which told them the notes I choose to play for that song, and they could then play it. That would definitely keep the tune alive long passed me, and for ages to come.

I mean no infringement by making these midis and sheets. I am simply trying to keep the music alive, to learn some of my favorite pieces, and to make the names of my favorite composers just a little more well known. If it weren’t for the huge bother that modern copyright has become, I would not be worried, as I am not doing anything to prevent the sale of these composer’s pieces. But I do worry.

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

LÖVE-ing the Android

title: LÖVE-ing the Android

date: 2013-07-16, 13:11:35

in_menu: false

A Picture of the Love No-Game Screen

I recently decided to try video game development again.

I almost decided to waste this inspiration by diving head deep into the SDL and SFML syntax, and once again come out with (at best) monolithic and shoddy simple games. Instead I looked around, and found something wonderful: LÖVE, one of my favorite and most successfully utilized game engines, has a working (and native!) android port.

What this means is that while using LÖVE used to mean my games would be able to be played on GNU/Linux, Windows, and OS/X, it now meant I could also carry them in my pocket, or run them on things like the Ouya and other game-specific systems. This was a very good thing, and prompted me to install LÖVE again.

Doing so on SalixOS is easy. In fact, it all comes down to running a single command (as root):

#: slapt-src -i OpenAL lua DevIL physfs libmodplug love

For those on stock Slackware, these should pretty much be the dependencies as well.

For those on other GNU/Linux distributions, there is a fairly decent list here.

Once that is finished with, You should have a complete and total LÖVE set up. All You need to do now is learn.

LÖVE uses lua, a scripting language I enjoy immensely. Notably, it is also the scripting language used in a number of other games (wesnoth, for instance.) Learning Lua is very well documented: in addition to a very active community page, there are also a few good tutorials.

Once You have those basics down (or before you do, it is really easy to pick up, honest) You can start perusing the LÖVE tutorials, and look for some games to mess around with.

See, when a game is distibuted for love, it comes in a .love file. This is simply a renamed .zip file, which allows You to look inside of it, usually. Most popular LÖVE games also have their source freely available, so there is that, too.

I chose to download the very-popular Mari0. It is a mix between the original Super Mario Bros and Portal. And it is Free.

My first project will be something simple, maybe a snake game or a pong clone. Details on my experiences with the actual code to come soon!

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Building Androids with Emacs.

title: Building for Androids (With GNU/Linux and Emacs), Part 1.

date: 2013-06-26, 17:32:38

in_menu: false

A screenshot of my phone's OS info

In the most recent holy war to rise from the geek community, I have finally decided which side I stand with: Android is my preferred Mobile OS environment, and iOS is now something I want little to do with.

In the old holy war, the Editor War, I wavered quite a bit. Originally, I actually preferred the simplicity of nano, if You can believe it. However, as I tried out (and I mean, seriously, this is the editor I will be using for the next month tried out) each editor I came across, I eventually found that I had to side with one of the two giants: vi(m) and emacs.

(I thought I held with vi for quite some time… then, I gave emacs an actual, fair go, and I have resigned to using it almost exclusively. I mean, for everything. These Blog Posts, My Web Sites, Music Composition, Graph/Flowchart Making, Organizing my thoughts, Note taking, Writing Novels, Writing Email, GPG, Directory Maintanence… and, of course, for Programming, as was intended.)

But, I was unhappy to find out, Android usually comes bundled with its own editor: Eclipse. I do not like being unable to use my editor of choice, and I ESPECIALLY do not want to use a graphical IDE. Let’s leave it at that, for now, and get to my solution: Setting up A GNU/Linux Installation to be a complete and functional IDE for Android, with Emacs as the editor of choice.

  1. Download and Install the Android SDK for Linux

The tarball, at the time of this writing, is named android-sdk_r22.0.1-linux.tgz. It can be found here.

To install, simply extract it (as root) to somewhere in Your tree. I chose the /opt directory.

#: cd /opt && tar -xvvzf ~/Downloads/android-sdk_r22.0.1-linux.tgz
#: chmod -Rv a+x android-sdk-linux/tools/

I also took the liberty of adding some setup for step 2 here: that last command allows anyone on the system to run any of the tools provided by the android sdk. If this is being installed in a user’s home directory, obviously change that to saner permissions.

  1. Add the tools to the system’s PATH

As I am installing this for the entire system, I wanted to allow the tools to be executed by their names, not their full paths. Therefore, I went to /etc/profile and added this line at the bottom:

export PATH=$PATH:/opt/android-sdk-linux/tools

I added it here, and not at the top of the file with the other exports, in case I ever need to remove it or revert to a stock /etc/profile. It is just safer.

Now, open a new terminal and try typing the following command:

$: android

If it works, You can move on to Step 3. However, if not, then You will have to add a line to the top of each user’s .bashrc file (this should really already be there, because without it the /etc/profile is fairly useless… but for completions sake…)

. /etc/profile

Having added that to Your ~/.bashrc, close and reopen a terminal, and you should be able to run the above command, and proceed to the next step.

  1. Update and finish installing Android’s SDK

After running the android tool, a box should have popped up to have You install a bunch (17 in my case) of packages. For me, 15 of these installed the first time I hit okay, then I had to rerun the install twice for the differing kernels (because they have different licenses).

After all that is done, You can verify everything worked (and check out the digs) by running the following command, which starts the emulator:

$: emulator

Easy to remember, right?

But wait, it didn’t start!

That’s because we need to create a new machine first. You can look up the rules and syntax later, I’ll just say to run the following:

$: android create avd -n test -t 1 --abi armeabi-v7a

And then:

$: emulator @test

Et, voila.

  1. Emacs Mode

Lots of contradictory (and downright incorrect) information exists out there. For me, the easiest solution I could find was to dowload the android-mode file into my .emacs.d directory, add it to be loaded in my init file, and call it a day. All of those tales of snake oil and complete integration are nothing but tomfoolery and bupkus.

$: cd ~/.emacs.d/ && git clone git://
$: emacs init.el

And with my setup, it was simply a matter of adding “android-mode” to the load list. For others, it may be something more complex. YMMV.

  1. Test it Out!

Creating a new project from the CLI is an esoteric mess, but not one which is undocumented. Here You Go. For those uninterested at the moment, just type this:

$: cd ~/work/android/projects
$: android create project \
--target 1 \
--name MyAndroidApp \
--path ./MyAndroidAppProject \
--activity MyAndroidAppActivity \
--package com.example.myandroid

After that is finished running, open the file res/layout/main.xml in emacs. And here we go!

Command Test:

Compile! (really, android-ant-debug)

C-c C-c c

Run the Emulator! (android-emulator)

C-c C-c e

Install! (android-ant-installd)

C-c C-c i

And now, You should have an App installed on that Virtual Phone, which is named something like “MyAndroidAppActivity” or “MyAndroidApp.” Run it, and it will display a message. Find that message in the sourcefile which is STILL OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE in the terminal beneath that window, change it, and do a quick recompile and reinstall (C-c C-c c and C-c C-c i) and there You go. It should read whatever You type there.

Anyway, that is as far as I have gotten. I got most of this from an old, no-longer-existing-but-archived-in-the-wayback-machine blog post from 2012. Other sources were the Android Docs, Super User, and Google. I wanted to record my experience here, in the hopes that it might help others interested in setting up Emacs to make Androids.

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Shooting Videos, Part 1

title: Shooting Videos, Part 1

date: 2013-07-13, 19:18:22

in_menu: false

A Picture of A Yellow 500W Worklight

Back in 2012, before my Grandmother passed away and I descended into depression, I had had the idea to put up some actual, real videos of me playing music… Especially on the Harp, as many people have never even heard a harp before.

I took this Idea to completion once, before deciding that I just did not have the right experience or equipment to complete these to the level I would have wanted them to be. The result, as You are probably able to see, was fairly amatuerish: Household lighting, back syncing of audio, grainy/shaky footage, and oh, that opening…

But it was a learning experience, and without the help of my partner Rachel, it would have turned out much much worse. Now, however, I am going to make a second attempt… with a few very important changes.

First, I have fixed the Lighting. I have Three Halogen Work Lights, which each rate in at 500W. Since they all have the same bulbs, the temperature of the lights are matched perfectly. And, I did not have to mail order anything. Woo!

Next, I have fixed the Footage, by Stabilizing it. I built a Mini Tripod for my phone, as that is what I am now reduced to shooting with. This was built out of three plastic cups, and it works absolutely beautifully.

After that, I have Redesigned the Opening, to something I think is much less grating… and, is normalized with the rest of the audio for the video. No more turning the sound down at first, then back up to hear the harp! I am excited to say that It is much more professional.

Finally, I have an actual Shooting Plan, to keep me on track. It is complete with extra buffer videos, deadlines, and variety to keep things moving smoothly. I hope to start releasing some of these very soon, but I feel that I must stick to the plan. Do not worry, though… When the time comes, I will be sure to let You know!

All of this combines into something which I think is going to go very well indeed. I cannot wait to be able to proudly say to check out my Youtube channel for some high quality videos. And, it is also an excuse to play more music. What could be better?

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Visual Novel AM 24, Post 1: Enter Landlady Larrison!

title: Enter Landlady Larrison!

date: 2013-07-07, 11:06:40

in_menu: false

A Picture of Landlady Larrison

Landlady Linda Larrison Lives!

We here at CRP are hard at work on one of our first major projects: A Visual Novel. Visual Novels, for those who don’t know, are a type of video game where You experience a story above most other things, often guiding the story along the way. Famous ones are Katawa Shoujo, Clannad, Fate Stay Night, and Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni.

The first character that Ethan and I took from design to development to an actual product is named, “Landlady Larrison.” She is the one pictured above. NOTE: As always, to get a better look, right click on the image and select, “View Image.” You can also download the character art this way!

We are very excited to be able to actually see one of the characters we have been talking about for months. Ethan Rodriguez was the one behind the pencil, and did all of the actual drawing. I, on the other hand, took the pencil drawing and digitized it, and then inked it. Together, we made Landylady Larrison exist. And we are very proud.

So proud, in fact, that we have decided to nominate Landlady Larrison as the Mascot of CRP! She works hard, You see, so the choice of who to promote was fairly easy. And well, while she may be a little odd and dirty (especially on her left hand, sheesh… Sorry) she is a very dependable worker, and always is wearing a smile.

Anyway, I will definitely post more about the visual novel as things are completed. As we will be redesigning most of the assets before we release the final product (and as I prefer free culture to the dumb copyright culture) there will be plenty of more downloadable artwork, all under the same CC-BY-SA 3.0 license I put on all of my works. And maybe even a glimpse into the story, eventually.

Time for me to get back to work. Comments are always appreciated!