Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arranged Carriage

title: Arranged Carriage

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LSDJ Cart: Found!

title: LSDJ Cartridge: Found!

date: 2013-07-02, 11:19:57

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A Picture of my Green DMG

About a week ago, something wonderful happened:


I had misplaced it a good month or two ago, and I have been missing it terribly. I put out a few different tracks, all on our Youtube channel, but the bulk of the tunes I have written (at least partially) still live on this little cart. I am extremely happy to have found it, because that means that I can not only back them up should I lose them again, but I can also share them with the world, on our site and the Youtube.

For those who are unfamiliar, LSDJ is a tracker program designed specifically for use on the original and color gameboys. It is a very popular tool right now in the Chipmusic scene, and it is a very good way to make an old console into a synth.

I will be posting these tracks in the coming weeks, as well as creating some new ones as I get back on my feet. Here’s to the unforeseen future! I am very excited.

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

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cultivating Some Good Habits

title: Cultivating Daily Habits

date: 2013-07-01, 11:18:55

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"Next time, You just have to try to hold out longer, and then longer,
and longer, and eventually you'll be great!" - Emi Ibarazaki

For better or worse, human beings are creatures of habit.

There is little to be done to change that, as I personally have found it nearly impossible to do so. However, the knowledge that (at least for me) this is the way things are is a very Powerful Tool. If I only learn to use it consistantly well, then I might be able to improve my quality of life tenfold.

This little project is really just a list of habits I would like to have, and execute, on a near-daily basis. Missing one day here or there is acceptable and even good, as I have never been an advocate of a Regimented life. That has always been more my father’s philosophy than mine. However, I do enjoy having a fairly Organized life. Reasonable expectations. Daily tropes that I fall into when not busy with something else.

And actual, physical organization, but we’ll cover that some other time.

Before I list my actual goals with this little interlude, I would like to point out why I am doing this and what I expect to gain from it.

The why is fairly simple: I am still unhappy with my current state of affairs. I do not like the way I am behaving; it is (from my perspective) irresponsible, inconsiderate, and unproductive to say the least. I hope to be able to drop the prefixes off of those adjectives with this project, and become responsible, considerate, and productive.

What I expect to gain, of course, is a little more complex. I could cop out here and give some kind of generic, intangible, subjective state of satisfaction (as I did with the purpose of this blog, for instance), BUT I do not want to shortchange myself or my Audience by turning to self reference after only four posts. We have a Tumblr for that, anyway.

Instead, I will say this: I hope to gain a bunch of proof (actual, tangible proof) that I am doing alright by some value of my own standards. I want a pile of papers, or a collection of text files, that I can point to when I feel like I am not following my own rules in life. I want to be able to prove myself wrong when I think I am wasting what little time I have to live my life.

Anyway, here is a short list. I don’t exactly know in what way I am going to implement the above, but actually having a list of demands is an important first step. Then, I can take it from concept to completion.

  • Awaken at a decent time each morning. For the past few weeks, I have been extending the nighttime activities to about 0500. It is nearly impossible to maintain that kind of a schedule and wake up the next day before noon (or 10 at the absolute earliest). This rule, therefore, will necessitate me going to bed earlier, and trying to get a decent night’s sleep.
  • Stick to a protein heavy, 1800 calorie diet. Doing the math, science says I should be on an 1800 calorie diet. I want that to be high in protein for two reasons: First, it will make me feel “full”-er. Second, it will help me to moderate my food intake better than a diet high in fats would, without any of the nasty side effects a carb-heavy diet carries along with it.
  • Exercise (Run) daily, Heavy Exercise 3-4x a week. When I was grieving for my grandmother (both before and after she passed away) I let myself get pretty overweight. I dealt with this earlier in the year, to the point where, while overweight, I am still happy with how I look. I also rediscovered that I really enjoy exercise. I wanna start that again.
  • Spend One Hour Playing Music. This is how I make my money, and one of the things I want to do with my life. Seems kinda obvious, from a discipline standpoint.
  • Write a Blog Post. (so meta!) This is a good way to organize my thoughts, and it should keep me from wasting days by not doing anything productive (as if I ever do that) of note. I also like the idea of being accountable to the faceless void that is the internet for the things I say I am going to do, like this blog post.
  • Put $5 away in savings. My actual savings program is supposed to be $40 a week. However, since I own my own business, and my main revenue stream is teaching, I have found that life doesn’t always allow me to do so. Therefore, as a backup, I want to put away $5 a day minimum. This should only come into play on weeks where I lose some business.
  • Read for 30 minutes. People who read can think better and write better, and can relate items and situations they have read to their own lives. I also run and participate in role playing campaigns, so this will help that, too. For now, I am not limiting the medium of text to be read, just that the primary action must still be “to read.”
  • Write for 30 minutes. I want to write a novel, eventually. I also have scripts partially finished for comics, visual novels, and even a video game. Along with technical and tutorial stuff for this blog, 30 minutes should be extremely easy to accomplish.
  • Converse with at least 7 people. I tend to isolate from the world if left unchecked. While I love my solitude, I do recognize that this is unhealthy, and that I cannot let it continue. It hurts those I care about, and is limiting in terms of happiness and productivity. It must be stopped.
  • Follow the full list of habits. Haha, this kinda had to go on here. From the right perspective, this could almost be a freebie. But realistically, it will be the reward for having followed all of the habits. I should do something to celebrate each time I achieve this one.

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