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The Dog Side of the Force
  • I always thought the Ysalamir that Zahn introduced in his trilogy were a really cool idea. Non-sentient arboreal creatures that had evolved to repel the force because of a species of predators that used the force to hunt. Thrawn weaponized them to control a psychotic Jedi master clone he used to control his army and to fight Luke and Mara. There's a lot of potential there for interesting force stuff to be explored.

    Then, they erased all that and we got midi-chlorian counts and somehow Palpatine survived instead.

  • In what subtle (or significant) ways has your hometown changed since your childhood?
  • My hometown was in Canada's top-ten communities in decline for years. These days, it's got two-thirds the population it used to, the streets are full of deer, and quite a few farmers' fields have turned into forests. Almost everyone my age that I knew moved away long ago. Going back is always shocking.

  • X now treats the term cisgender as a slur
  • I got more curious, so I did some searching, and I just can't. Turns out Musk has some absurd number of children with several different women. And I only found that out through some pop culture/celebrity worship/exploitation websites I'd rather not have in my search history. I couldn't even find the name or age of the child in question (probably for the best, I wouldn't want my children to go through this, either), though it seems of the three children he had with Grimes, the oldest just turned 4. That's a bit young to even know what disowning is.

  • who's tried it? what does it taste like?
  • Radler has recently made its way to Korea. I bought some once not knowing what it was. While drinking, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting a buzz. I thoroughly checked the can and found out it's got 2-3% alcohol. Needless to say, I haven't bought it since.

  • In your country, what "common" animals are tourists most excited to see?
  • None! I live in Korea, and the local wildlife was long ago mostly displaced or eaten by the seething mass of humanity. Once upon a time, there were some cool bears and tigers even. There are some nice, big herons still around I suppose. Oh, some tiny deer, too.

  • I just can't even.
  • I feel like it's a bit like terminally ill people suddenly finding religion. Parents with autistic children are desperate to find something to blame or believe in for their situation. So, they've latched onto this absolute fiction that vaccination can cause autism. Nevermind it was something like a single study done that has since been completely disproved. Notice Nicholas up there has an "older, vaccine injured sibling".

  • EA wants to place in-game ads in its full-price AAA games, again
  • If they'd just be smart about it. Make the ads in-game. Like a Nike poster on a wall or a can of Pepsi on a table or something. I wouldn't have a problem with that. Making them the entire focus - however brief - just makes me hate them immeasurably.

  • beetlecrab.audio's Tempera has eaten my life

    I ordered one some time back, and it showed up two-and-a-half weeks ago. I've been making patches almost daily. Well, to be fair, I generated a fair number of samples before I even got it. Some of them worked out, others did not. I've been on the Discord with the creators, and they actually implemented a couple of firmware changes I suggested. Damn! It's an amazing creative tool with a great community behind it.

    I'd write a full review, but that would take time away from continuing to use it. So much potential, so many ideas. I can't wait to absolutely slather my next album in it.

    You can see some examples on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3hZED_SAmcAeUGli_1Elew

    0
    Linux SSD Transfer Flawless Victory!

    So, my work machine was getting long in the tooth. Occasionally not booting and requiring me to jiggle memory sticks or tighten CPU cooler screws. It was a DDR3 machine with a Xeon E3 1230V2 with 8gb of RAM (and oddly enough an RTX 2060.) The fans were getting pretty loud, too.

    I had a Ryzen 2600x and 16gb of DD4 from my home PC lying around, so I bought a cheap mainboard, tore the old one out of the case, attached all the hardware to the new mainboard - including the SSD with Mint installed - and BOOM! It booted first try without issue. Even going from Intel to AMD, DDR3 to DDR4. My mind is blown!

    I can't imagine how borked my machine would have been if I'd tried that with Windows.

    Now, what do I do with a still-working Xeon and mainboard?!?

    21
    Echopraxia: The Sequel to the Most Recommended Book Ever

    Peter Watts' Blindsight should be no stranger to anyone on PrintSF. On our Reddit incarnation, it was recommended in just about every thread asking for recommendations. It was sometimes even a suitable recommendation.

    Echopraxia is its much-less-well-known sequel, and it's the Art Garfunkel to Blindsight's Paul Simon. It's definitely not as well thought out or comprehensible, but it still does its own thing pretty well, and is a great complement to the other. Though, it might not quite stand on its own so well.

    Watts has changed the setting from near space to, well, nevermind, we're back in space. There are some bits early on that are on Earth, and I thought those were quite promising. There's some great world building - and it really is a fascinating near-future Earth that he's thought up - but, well, a chapter in and we're thrust back into space aboard another spaceship with a whacky crew of post-human misfits.

    Which is fine. Blindsight proved he's quite adept at writing that sort of thing. Only, this time around, no one is quite as, uhh, anti-charismatic as the protagonist of that. The main character is as unlikable as Siri Keeton in his own way, but he's not the fascinating character study. He's just a guy past his prime trying to not get killed in a world he doesn't understand very well anymore.

    And not getting killed isn't a minor accomplishment in this book. Without getting too spoilery, don't get attached to anyone too much. Not that that's much of an accomplishment, either. The marine who practices combat maneuvers in his sleep, and the vendetta obsessed pilot aren't exactly begging you to be on their side. Neither are the mute hive mind scientists or their interpreter. The latter of whom might actually be the only sympathetic character in the entire book. Hey, I might have felt a twinge of sympathy for the resurrected vampire.

    Bashing aside, I enjoyed this book a lot. Much like in Blindsight, Watts loves to throw mind-melting ideas about melting-minds at the pages and seeing what sticks. Quite a few of them did this time around, though not as often as in that one. Some of the mind-melting ideas about melting-minds came across as half-baked or just not particularly well described. For example, the titular Echopraxia only shows up in the last twenty pages or so, and I don't think we're ever told exactly how it came about. Though it's entirely possible I missed it.

    On missing things, I must admit, I either missed or plain did not understand a lot of the plot points of this one. Daniel Bruks (the MC I mentioned) finds himself in ludicrous situation after ludicrous situation which are far too coincidental to be coincidental. There are many allusions to things not being quite as they seem, but very few actual revelations of reality. The end of the book in particular seemed very vague to me, though I suspect a lot of what's happening could be inferred by tying it together with Blindsight to make some sort of meta-narrative on the nature of consciousness and its necessity or lack thereof. And yeah, I've lost myself now.

    Watts' books typically demand a re-read or two.

    Which I'm sure I'll get around to right after I read something mindless and action driven. I need a break.

    4/5 holes punched in my consciousness

    1
    Twisted Electrons' MEGAfm is Getting Better!

    If you don't know what it is, it's two Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) sound chips (Yamaha 2612 in V1, and uhh, some other number in V2) in a small aluminium box with a boatload of faders to control every aspect of each operator, some LFOs to modulate them, and an arpeggiator/sequencer (I never use).

    You might think it sounds like a Sega Genesis game all the time, but it does not. The LFOs really open up the 2612. It does some amazing performance tricks you certainly don't hear in Sonic the Hedgehog. But, it does those, too. Channel your inner Yuzo Koshiro, then make it sound like something entirely else.

    A while back, Twisted Electrons saw fit to make the firmware open source, and it's wonderful how much functionality they've added. Looping envelopes that can loop from different points in the six-stage envelopes, new voicing options, a MIDI tool to change settings from your PC, heck, a couple weeks ago they added the ability to change the scaling of the envelopes. It came out four years ago, and the updates keep on coming.

    Just so I don't sound too much like a fanboy, I will qualify that it is a bit of a janky box. Voice stealing is weird sometimes, and these chips are noisy and scummy sounding. It's probably the most analog sounding digital thing I've ever heard. I guess there are still a few minor bugs with the firmware, but none that I personally notice.

    Still, it's only 450 Euros and eminently worth it.

    9
    Inspiration from Hardware

    Recently I've been on a hardware granular synthesis search (we're in a renaissance) and I love seeing how each box (1010music - Lemon Drop, Tasty Chips - GR-1 and GR-MEGA, Oddment Audio - groc, and the plinky and Tempera) implements their particular version of granular synthesis because I can steal their ideas!

    I watch a tutorial or demo video, and they explain how the hardware works. I can then go and open up Notepad++ and code up my own version of their instruments in Csound. For free. I don't even have to subscribe to their silly hardware limitations, either.

    It doesn't exactly stop me GASing over some of them (man, the groc looks sexy, though it's a bit early to tell how good it is), but it does at least prevent me from making too many impulse purchases.

    This turned into a bit more of a CSound rave than I intended again. Seriously though, if you're interested in sound synthesis and are even mildly technologically inclined, I really advise learning either Csound or one of the other languages like Supercollider or ChucK. The only problem is that every piece of hardware after that is going to be a disappointment.

    6
    1010music Nanoboxes Worth It?

    In my ongoing quest to destroy my bank account and prevent my child from attending university, I'm considering a Nanobox. Specifically the Lemon Drop because I've had a fascination with granular synthesis for something like 25 years now, and the Razzmatazz, Tangerine, and Fireball don't really appeal to me at all (at least not right now while I'm lusting over hardware granular synthesis.)

    Up to now, I've done all my granular synthesis for free! Csound has a number of granular opcodes that are incredibly powerful. Sample length limit is almost non-existent, grain density can be cranked into the tens-of-thousands before it starts to become a problem, you will never run out of voices, and there are more tweakable parameters than you find on any piece of hardware. Even something like the GR-MEGA from Tasty Chips really can't keep up with Csound and a mildly competent PC.

    So yeah, I'm not used to paying money for granular synthesis, but I'm also used to generating all my granular sounds with code rather than knobs and a keyboard. The thing is, the Lemon Drop only partly mitigates this concern. It's a tiny box with two knobs, four buttons, and a decent amount of connectivity. It's not exactly a knob-per-function kind of thing that will make sound design a delight. I like their implementation, but I could do just as well with code, just not as immediately. $400 is a big ask.

    I do have a Microfreak, which introduced granular synthesis in the latest firmware, but I find the implementation a bit lacking. It's not terrible, but the limited interface of the Microfreak hampers the design potential quite a bit. I should probably fart around a bit more there before I dismiss it too much, though.

    Anyone own a Nanobox? Are they really worth $400? I do have a birthday coming up...

    2
    Dirtywave M8 Model:02 Exists!

    Seems like every couple of months, I seriously GAS over one of these things, and then think better of it. It's getting harder to resist. The extra screen space, battery life, onboard mic (unless it's total garbage), and USB C connection make it way more tempting. Not so much the extra $$$ tho. Still cheaper (and better) than a Polyend Tracker Mini here in Korea.

    0
    I Got a Microfreak!

    I had a bit of cash, and have been working with a portable setup lately that is mostly Koala Sampler, my phone, a Samson Go mic, and a tiny DAC that is literally a USB-C jack to two 3.5mm audio jacks, one in and one out, and decided I needed some more hands-on sound design power.

    In the spirit of maintaining portability, I looked to smaller devices. The problem I find there is that a lot of portable devices look like they're about as much fun to design sound on as a VST or app, so why not just spend a fraction of the cost and do that instead? I did end up working out some of the trouble I had getting Csound for Android working, which is great since there's almost infinite sound design potential there if you don't mind coding (which is how I mostly made music for the first 15-years I was doing it.)

    I made a track with Csound and Koala, and decided I still wanted something more immediate than code. So, I bought a Microfreak.

    I'm sure the copious firmware updates in the 4 years since it came out have something to do with it being way more capable than I had initially assumed (and at the time I was comparing it with Hydrasynth, which is significantly more capable.) It's got something like 24 different oscillator types now which cover a lot of ground from VA, to wavetable, to granular, and even samples now. They're all a bit limited since there are only 3-4 parameters per oscillator that can be tweaked, but Arturia (and presumably Mutable before them) made sure that those parameters are the ones you really want to control.

    I've made more patches on it in a couple of weeks than I have on the Hydrasynth in a couple of years. (Mind you, I've made many more finished tracks with the Hydrasynth so far, so we'll see in the end.) It's super easy to dial in usable and interesting sounds. And yeah, you can "freak" out and make it sound like a university student first discovering LFOs, but I find that side of it decidedly less interesting. If I want cutting edge modulation experimentation, I'll code something up in Csound. The Microfreak just effortlessly does great leads, basses, and pads.

    Like everyone else who has one complains: it'd be nice to have some onboard effects since it sounds pretty dry without them. Luckily Koala has quite a few decent effects these days. Really, the amount of sound design, and track creation potential between a $350 synth, a $15 app, and an $8 interface is making me feel a bit dumb over the desk packed with hardware I have at home. (Never mind the $1200 phone I suppose...)

    0
    It Fits Perfectly!

    Surely, this can't be a coincidence.

    29
    Koala Sampler is Amazing!

    With all the talk of samplers since TE decided to release the ridiculously hyped K.O. II, I decided to finally pick up Koala Sampler. I've heard many good things about it, and for good reason. It's amazing! It's so immediate and fun and actually stupid powerful if you shell out (~$15 for everything) for the mixer, effects, and time stretch extras.

    I dusted off my ancient sample collection and plopped them on my phone (Galaxy S23 Ultra) and am putting finishing touches on 3 tracks in just a few days, and just hauling it out to play with my daughter who gets a kick out of it. I even found a new use for my Samson Go mic which works with Android and has a headphone jack. It's perfect since the S23 Ultra doesn't have a headphone jack (fuck you very much Apple, Google, and Samsung) and the Samson mic is obviously much better quality than the (actually not that bad) internal mic.

    My phone battery hates me. Though I don't really notice Koala being any more demanding than anything else. I'm just using my phone so much more.

    The base version is ~$5 and very much worth it to check out if phone sampling is for you. I really recommend at least the mixer upgrade. It really adds a lot of functionality for another $5. The time stretch stuff that comes with Samurai (the name of the other upgrade) is decent as well, though certainly not as necessary if you mostly use one-shots instead of loops.

    11
    Oh no, I've got GAS for a TE product! (EP-133)

    Namely the new EP-133. TBF, it's the cheapest thing they've made besides the POs. It's really the first thing they've made that's genuinely got me excited. I don't even have a sampler. I mean, besides a PC which is arguably the most powerful sampler in existence.

    Cuckoo's demo on YouTube is pretty good, but I wish Loopop would get his hands on one. I prefer his manner of stoic tutorial-review over Cuckoo's also-OK giddy enthusiasm.

    6
    Daniel Suarez' *Kill Decision* Killed Me

    The title's a bit dramatic, but I was having trouble coming up with a good pun or otherwise.

    Hot on the heels of his Daemon and Freedom duology, Suarez cranked out this near-future, techno-thriller in 2012. Which I'm sure made a lot of sense given his success with the former. Unfortunately, it fails to live to up to the non-stop, dumb fun of his first couple of releases.

    Where Daemon and Freedom found glee in speculation of near future tech changing the face of the planet, this one is dour to the core. Some shady operation is making drones that kill people autonomously. Some other shady operation sets out to stop them. It's hardly spoiling much to say they (at least partially) succeed in spectacular fashion through a series of larger-than-life set pieces involving copious gunfire and car/plane/drone/boat chases. There's no comedy to be found here, intentional or otherwise. D&F at least had the utter ridiculousness of its happenings to alleviate the constant severity. This one ain't got that.

    The characters are as cliche as they come. Hyper-competent super secret agents, scientists, engineers, and shady business people. A couple of them even fall in love, though thankfully the sex is limited to a line of text: "They made love." I really wouldn't want Suarez to push his writing chops too far in that direction given his proclivity for over-the-top action and technological exposition. Both of which are here in quantity.

    Overall, I wouldn't call it a bad book. Just an entirely predictable, fairly mediocre one. It comes in pretty short around 300 pages or so I'd imagine if I had a hard copy. The technological stuff is dry, plausible, and not poorly written if you're into that. The action is well done, if somewhat less plausible, and keeps things moving.

    3/5 autonomous killer drones

    0
    What Synth is for Me?

    Have a question about what synth - soft or hard - you should buy? Ask here! At least give us an idea about what kind of music you want to make and an inkling of how you want to do it.

    5
    General Discussion/Chat

    What's on your mind regarding synthesis? See any good shows recently? Made an obnoxious noise experiment? Made a delightful noise experiment?

    4
    Korg Wavestate SE

    If someone asked me to guess what Korg was going to do next, I would not have said a full-sized, 61-key update to the Wavestate. Well, that's what they did.

    I don't know how I feel about it. I like the synthesis engine: it's unique and versatile. It really nails those ethereal 90s digital tones with more modern modulation capabilities and sound quality, but it seems like such a niche thing, I don't know if it warranted a full-sized version.

    Also, what's with the UI? They took almost the exact same layout as the original, and plopped a gigantic keyboard on the bottom. Now, there are huge blank spaces on both sides of the knobs and tiny screen. Korg really ought to have made the whole thing less deep and spread the UI out across the length of it. I guess they save on R&D by this route anyway.

    Personally, I'd say spend the money on a decent MIDI controller, and just buy the VST if you really want those sounds. The hardware here doesn't seem like anything special, and the UI, frankly, looks awful.

    I wonder if the Opsix or Modwave are going to get the same treatment.

    0
    Expats ahoy!

    Canadian teaching English in South Korea here.

    Where are you, and waddaya at?

    12
    Csound!

    Csound is my passion! I've been programming bleeps and bloops with it for nearly 25 years now. Short of one of the other synthesis languages (I've been meaning to check out Supercollider for years) no software, VST, or hardware synth can do a fraction of what's possible with Csound.

    Lately, I've been playing with wavetable synthesis in Csound. The cool thing about using Csound for wavetables, is that there are very few limits of what you can do with those wavetables.

    For instance, a piece I recently worked on I wrote an instrument that used a sin wave from a table with 16384 points between -1 and 1 for its single wavelength.

    Inside the instrument, I made an if statement that ran once per cycle and randomly either squared the value of a random point or took the square root of the value of a random point (and made them negative again if they were initially negative.) Since all the values are between -1 and 1, this means they never go outside of that range, but they do either get closer to zero if squared, or closer to -1/1 if rooted.

    In the end, it means the harmonic spectrum slowly changes in an odd and random manner. The change could be sped up or slowed down by using fewer or more points since the randomization is happening once per wavecycle. I tried some other values, but settled on 16384 because 8192 was a little too quick, and 32768 was a bit sluggish. (Csound likes its powers-of-2, which isn't a strict rule since there are oscillators that will use tables with lengths that aren't such, but I kept it simple.)

    Unfortunately, for all its complexity, the end result doesn't really sound too dissimilar to a plain old filter sweep on a harmonically rich waveform. You never know until you try I guess. Ha!

    0
    Deleting Reddit Comments and Posts

    I'm having a lot of trouble deleting my stuff. I've got 9 years and 50k comment karma to get through, and the best I've got is a script that deletes one page of comments at a time. June 30th will be here before I'm done using this method.

    Nuke Reddit History extension doesn't seem to exist anymore. Shreddit just spun its wheels endlessly. Power Delete Suite gave me the heebie jeebies.

    What's the best way to do this?

    5
    InitialsDiceBearhttps://github.com/dicebear/dicebearhttps://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/„Initials” (https://github.com/dicebear/dicebear) by „DiceBear”, licensed under „CC0 1.0” (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)UN
    Underwaterbob @lemm.ee
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