Programming in concert mode

Andrew Sorensen's cyberphysical music-making demonstrated programming real-time systems in real time.

Music and programming share deep mathematical roots, but have very different senses of “performance”. At OSCON, Andrew Sorensen reunited those two branches to give a live “concert” performance as a keynote. Sorensen brought his decade of “live coding musical concerts in front of an audience” to a real-time demonstration of Extempore, “a systems programming language designed to support the programming of real-time systems in real time”:

“Extempore is designed to support a style of programming dubbed ‘cyberphysical’ programming. Cyberphysical programming supports the notion of a human programmer operating as an active agent in a real-time distributed network of environmentally aware systems.”

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Four short links: 15 October 2013

Four short links: 15 October 2013

BF Maker, Wikiseat, Decentralising Software, and Streaming Economics

  1. BF Skinner’s Baby Make Project (BoingBoing) — I got to read some of Skinner’s original writing on the Air-Crib recently and couple of things stuck out to me. First, it cracked me up. The article, published in 1959 in Cumulative Record, is written in the kind of extra-enthusiastic voice you’re used to hearing Makers use to describe particularly exciting DIY projects.
  2. Wikiseat — awesome Maker education project. (via Claire Amos)
  3. Redecentralize — project highlighting developers and software that disintermediates the ad-serving parasites preying on our human communication.
  4. The Internet Will Suck All Creative Content Out of the World (David Byrne) — persuasively argued that labels are making all the money from streaming services like Spotify, et al. Musicians are increasingly suspicious of the money and equity changing hands between these services and record labels – both money and equity has been exchanged based on content and assets that artists produced but seem to have no say over. Spotify gave $500m in advances to major labels in the US for the right to license their catalogues.
Four short links: 27 September 2013

Four short links: 27 September 2013

Amen Break, MySQL Scale, Spooky Source, and Graph Analytics Engine

  1. The Amen Break (YouTube) — fascinating 20m history of the amen break, a handful of bars of drum solo from a forgotten 1969 song which became the origin of a huge amount of popular music from rap to jungle and commercials, and the contested materials at the heart of sample-based music. Remix it and weep. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. The MySQL Ecosystem at Scale (PDF) — nice summary of how MySQL is used on massive users, and where the sweet spots have been found.
  3. Lab41 (Github) — open sourced code from a spook hacklab in Silicon Valley.
  4. Fanulus — open sourced Hadoop-based graph analytics engine for analyzing graphs represented across a multi-machine compute cluster. A breadth-first version of the graph traversal language Gremlin operates on graphs stored in the distributed graph database Titan, in any Rexster-fronted graph database, or in HDFS via various text and binary formats.
Four short links: 24 June 2013

Four short links: 24 June 2013

Location Data, Online Science, Mythbusting for Education, and Cheap Music For All

  1. Reading Runes in Animal Movement (YouTube) — accessible TEDxRiverTawe 2013 talk by Professor Rory Wilson, on his work tracking movements of animals in time and space. The value comes from high-resolution time series data: many samples/second, very granular.
  2. Best Science Writing Online 2012 (Amazon) — edited collection of the best blog posts on science from 2012. Some very good science writing happening online.
  3. Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education (PDF) — Derek Muller’s PhD thesis, summarised as “mythbusting beats lectures, hands down”. See also his TED@Sydney talk.
  4. Melomics — royalty-free computer-generated music, all genres, for sale (genius business model). Academic spinoff from Dr. Francisco J. Vico’s work at UMA in Spain.

The future of classical music

Where is classical music publishing headed now that the great works are available for free online?

The job of a publisher is to identify and cultivate talent, underwrite the writing process, and distribute the result. The publishing industry has been wringing its hands about the future of the print book for some time, but that model is sound (in the abstract) regardless of whether a book is printed on paper or transmitted over the Internet to a paying reader.

But what if you’re a publisher of works that have been in the public domain for a long time? The talent has already been identified and the writing has already been done, so the only value to be added is in editing, printing and distributing. That pretty much describes the business of publishing classical music scores, and the amount of value that publishers add varies greatly — between Dover, which mostly produces cheaply-bound facsimiles of out-of-copyright editions, and the German publishers Barenreiter and Henle, which produce beautifully printed scholarly editions.

Regardless of quality, all of these publishers face disruption in the form of the International Music Score Library Project, which makes 67,927 works of public-domain classical music available, for free, as scanned scores from academic music libraries. Traditional publishers rely on sales of warhorses like Beethoven’s piano sonatas to fund their operations, and that’s precisely what’s most readily available at IMSLP. It’s as though Knopf needed to sell Great Expectations to supply Robert Caro’s typewriter ribbon.

In our latest podcast, Mike Loukides and I talk about classical publishing and changes in the ways we play music. You can subscribe to our podcast series on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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Four short links: 2 May 2013

Four short links: 2 May 2013

Infographics Game, Streaming Money, Robot Interviews, and Inefficient Science Funding

  1. Metrico — puzzle game for Playstation centered around infographics (charts and graphs). (via Flowing Data)
  2. The Lease They Can Do (Business Week) — excellent Paul Ford piece on money, law, and music streaming services. So this is not about technology. Nor is it really about music. This is about determining the optimal strategy for mass licensing of digital artifacts.
  3. How Effective Is a Humanoid Robot as a Tool for Interviewing Young Children? (PLosONE) — The results reveal that the children interacted with KASPAR very similar to how they interacted with a human interviewer. The quantitative behaviour analysis reveal that the most notable difference between the interviews with KASPAR and the human were the duration of the interviews, the eye gaze directed towards the different interviewers, and the response time of the interviewers. These results are discussed in light of future work towards developing KASPAR as an ‘interviewer’ for young children in application areas where a robot may have advantages over a human interviewer, e.g. in police, social services, or healthcare applications.
  4. Funding: Australia’s Grant System Wastes Time (Nature, paywalled) — We found that scientists in Australia spent more than five centuries’ worth of time preparing research-grant proposals for consideration by the largest funding scheme of 2012. Because just 20.5% of these applications were successful, the equivalent of some four centuries of effort returned no immediate benefit to researchers.
Four short links: 22 February 2013

Four short links: 22 February 2013

Indiepocalypse Continued, Unblockable p2p Twitter, Disposable Satellites, and iOS to HTML5

  1. Indiepocalypse: Harlem Shake Edition (Andy Baio) — “After four weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” was replaced this week by Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the song that inspired the Internet meme.”
  2. SplinterNet — an Android app designed to create an unblockable Twitter like network that uses no cellular or Internet communications. All messages are transmitted over Bluetooth between users, creating a true peer-to-peer messaging system. All messages are anonymous to prevent retaliation by government authorities. (via Ushahidi)
  3. Disposable Satellites (Forbes) — “tiny, near-disposable satellites for use in getting battlefield surveillance quickly [...] launched from a jet into orbit, and within a few minutes [...] provide soldiers on the ground with a zoomed-in, birds-eye view of the battlefield. Those image would be transmitted to current communications devices, and the company is working to develop a way to transmit them to smartphones, as well.”
  4. Native iOS to HTML5 Porting Tool (Intel) — essentially a source-to-source translator that can handle a number of conversions from Objective-C into JavaScript/HTML5 including the translation of APIs calls. A number of open source projects are used as foundation for the conversion including a modified version of Clang front-end, LayerD framework and jQuery Mobile for widgets rendering in the translated source code. A porting aid, not a complete translator but a lot of the dog work is done. Requires one convert to Microsoft tools, however. (via Kevin Marks)
Four short links: 30 January 2013

Four short links: 30 January 2013

Cheap Attack Drones, Truth Filters, Where Musicians Make Money, and Dynamic Pricing From Digitized Analogue Signals

  1. Chinese Attack UAV (Alibaba) — Small attack UAV is characterized with small size, light weight, convenient carrying, rapid outfield expansion procedure, easy operation and maintenance; the system only needs 2-3 operators to operate, can be carried by surveillance personnel to complete the attack mission. (via BoingBoing)
  2. TruthTeller Prototype (Washington Post) — speech-to-text, then matches statements against known facts to identify truth/falsehoods. Still a prototype but I love that, in addition to the Real Time Coupon Specials From Hot Singles Near You mobile advertising lens, there might be a truth lens that technology helps us apply to the world around us.
  3. Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives — 5,000 American musicians surveyed, For most musicians, copyright does not provide much of a direct financial reward for what they are producing currently. The survey findings are instead consistent with a winner-take-all or superstar model in which copyright motivates musicians through the promise of large rewards in the future in the rare event of wide popularity. This conclusion is not unfamiliar, but this article is the first to support it with empirical evidence on musicians’ revenue. (via TechDirt)
  4. Max Levchin’s DLD13 KeynoteI believe the next big wave of opportunities exists in centralized processing of data gathered from primarily analog systems. [...] There is also a neat symmetry to this analog-to-digtail transformation — enabling centralization of unique analog capacities. As soon as the general public is ready for it, many things handled by a human at the edge of consumption will be controlled by the best currently available human at the center of the system, real time sensors bringing the necessary data to them in real time.
Four short links: 28 December 2012

Four short links: 28 December 2012

Kenyan Entrepreneur, Spooky Open Source, Typing Tutor, and Hacker's Bagpipes

  1. Kenyan Women Create Their Own Geek Culture (NPR) — Oguya started spending some Saturday mornings with Colaco and other women, snipping code and poring through hacker cookbooks. These informal gatherings became the Akirachix. Oguya graduated and turned her mobile phone idea into a company called M-Farm. At 25 years old, she now has a staff of 18. And 7,000 African farmers use her app.
  2. Ozone Widget Framework (Github) — open source webapp integrator. The Ozone Widget Framework is released to the public as Open Source Software, because it’s the Right Thing To Do. Also, it was required by Section 924 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Spook-made, citizen played.
  3. gtypist — open source universal typing tutor. You can learn correct typing and improve your skills by practising its exercises on a regular basis.
  4. Open Source Hardware Bagpipes — to practice your fingerings without actually killing the neighbours. (via Hacked Gadgets)
Four short links: 20 April 2012

Four short links: 20 April 2012

Hologram Headliners, Javascript Stack, HTML to PDF, and Software Defined Networking

  1. Tupac Coachella Behind the Technology (CBS) — interesting to me is Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were considering taking Shakur with them on tour. Just as Hobbit, Tintin, etc. are CG-ing characters to look normal, is the future of “live” spectacle to be this kind of CG show? Will new acts be competing against the Rolling Stones forever?
  2. Javascript All The Way Down (Alex Russell) — points out that we’re fixing so much like compatibility, performance, accessibility, all this stuff with Javascript. We’re moving further and further from declarative programming and more and more back to the days of writing heaps of Xlib or Motif toolkit code to implement our UIs and apps.
  3. wkhtmltopdf (Google Code) — Simple shell utility to convert html to pdf using the webkit rendering engine, and qt. My first piece of “I wrote this, now you can use it too” open source was an HTML to PS converter (this was 1994 or so) via LaTeX. It’s a useful thing, no really.
  4. Nicira (Wired) — moving network management into software so the network hardware is as dumb as possible. Interesting continuation of the End-to-End principle, whereby smarts live at the edges of the network and the conduits are dumb.
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