Monthly Archives: September 2011

Quarterly Music Report: 2011 Q3

organ1904

I decided that there was a significant gap in my cultural life: organ music. And so, that was the dominant theme this quarter.

Organ Music

  • Lots of Bach (the library has the Complete Bach set)
  • Bine Katrine Bryndorf
  • Duets and Cannons by Bowers-Broadbent
  • Buxtehude
  • Cameron Carpenter
  • Christoph Maria Moosmann
  • David Hicken
  • E. Power Biggs (I listened to him on 8-track when I was growing up)
  • Philip Glass
  • Marie-Claire Alain
  • Mendelssohn
  • Messiaen
  • Mozart
  • Reger
  • Saint Saëns
  • Virgil Fox
  • Widor

Other Classical

  • Alfred Brendel: The Complete Vox, Turnabout, and Vanguard Solo Recordings
  • Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen, From the House of the Dead, Jenůfa, Káta Kabanová, and The Makropulos Affair
  • Messiaen: St. François D’Assise
  • Monteverdi: Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi
  • Saint Saëns: Misc. orchestral music
  • Scarlatti: The Keyboard Sonatas

Pop

  • Blink-182: Neighborhoods
  • The Book of Mormon (Listened to this about 1000 times and eventually saw it live in NYC)
  • The Kraftwerk box set
  • Lady Gaga: Born This Way (They were giving it away online and I still haven’t actually listened to it)
  • Led Zeppelin box set
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: I’m with You
  • Thundercat: The Golden Age of Apocalypse
  • 311: Universal Pulse
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Processing & Baba Yaga: Part 5

This time, the chicken legs move if you use the live version in OpenProcessing.org: a, s, d control the left leg; j, k, l control the right. Here’s a picture of part of the code:

And here are two versions of the result:

And there you have it. Baba’s hut is doing The Chicken Dance.

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A Note to My Class Colleagues

As a public service announcement, I thought I should alert my fellow class members that you DON’T have to reach around to the back of the iMac to plug in your flash drive (where you will likely forget it). Rather, Macs have hidden USB ports built right in the keyboard! Just look under the left side (as the mouse uses the right side port) and, voilà, you can plug in your flash drive right where you can see it while you work (and possibly remember it before you leave).

Hope that helps!

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Processing & Baba Yaga: Part 4

Okay, part four of our Processing saga may seem a little funny, because it’s all about using images and text in Processing. This, of course, is the sort of thing that one would normally do in Photoshop. However, we did it in our Processing class because:

  1. It was the next chapter in the book Getting Started with Processing
  2. Although these sketches are static, it is also possible to make them dynamic and interactive (which we will demonstrate shortly), as well as data-driven (which we also hope to do at a later date)
  3. Really, we did it because we could
And there you have it. Anyhow, here’s the code for my image/text version of the Baba Yaga hut. I should mention, however, that this code also refers to image and font files that are stored in a data folder with the sketch, but I’m not going to show those here.
And here’s the resulting image:
Cute, huh? And, if you want, you can run the code yourself at OpenProcessing.org by clicking here. Enjoy!
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Personal Logo, Take 1

Okay, for my Computers and the Arts class (FA2000) we needed to design a personal logo. My first thought was to model something after a Chinese chop or seal, like one of these:

So, here’s my not-very-impressive attemp at a first draft in my favorite color:

So, hand drawn with Sharpies and, given that I couldn’t even draw it straight, a fair amount of freestyle warping in Photoshop. I kind of the the inverted symmetry between the lowercase “b” and the uppercase “P.” Also, the whole ends up rather looking for like a child’s alphabet blocks:

Anyhow, that’s the first take. We’ll see what happens next.

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Oh, the Things You Can Do in Preview

Most of us know that Macs are handy for working with images. However, you don’t have to have Photoshop installed to do a lot of basic (and not-so-basic) image manipulation. Instead, the Preview program that comes with Macs and that most people associate with simply viewing PDFs or images, can do a whole lot more than that. For example, here are a few screenshots from when I was working on a photo of chicken legs (whose purpose will become apparent at a later date).

In the first shot, you can see the palette for color adjustments. (You get it by going in the menu bar to Tools > Adjust Color…)

Cool! Next, you can adjust the size and resolution of photos by going to Tools > Adjust Size…, like this:

That brings up the following dialog box, which lets you do all sorts of nifty things:

Quick and easy and no extra software required! Preview has other lovely features, too, like letting you add or delete pages from PDFs, crop pages, annotate, or even add your signature. Very nice!

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Getting Hit with the Ugly Stick

Speaking of Citroëns, how is it that the DS, which has been called the most beautiful car ever made — by professional automobile designers, no less — can become such a horrifying monstrosity when turned into a wagon? See of yourself. Before:

And after a beating with the ugly stick:

As we say here in Utah: “Oh my heck!”

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Mike Lee Smiles on Me

Okay, so it’s not exactly a masterpiece, but it’s a good first step. The first project for FA2000, Computers and the Arts, was to create a Surrealist collage in Photoshop. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to create an image of my family and I escaping Utah as a smiling Senator Mike Lee (one of our fine, fine Congressional Tea Party demagogues) looms overhead in the manner of, say, Lord  Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Unfortunately, we’re driving in a 1960 Citroën DS wagon and getting passed by a Galapagos tortoise (although we have made it to the Bonneville Salt Flats and are therefore just a few miles from Nevada, where a Democrat is in the Senate).

Here’s the end result:

The whole thing, though, reminds me of a 2008 article I read about the Photoshop spoofs of Sarah Palin entitled “Photoshop for Democracy Revisited: The Sarah Palin File.” In it, the author, Henry Jenkins, argues that such creations are actually a useful way of investigating the collective beliefs and prejudices of the nation. As a researcher, therefore, it may be premature to throw such dross in the junk mail folder but, rather, to use them as social indicators. Fascinating.

I must say, however, my all time favorite is the one of Obama and Palin as contestants in Dancing with the Stars:

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I ❤ lynda.com

Okay, after my Photoshop meltdown, I decided I had better get some extra help. While our teacher is wonderful and has given us some excellent written materials, I felt I needed more. Fortunately, I knew where to turn: The fabulous, miraculous, life-saving, lynda.com! (By the way, while the founder, Lynda Weinman, spells her name with conventional capitalization, the company’s name is all lower case.)

[Immediate disclosure: I only learned about lynda.com when they invited me to create a course for them on the statistical package SPSS, which I gladly did. You can see a preview of it here. As one of the authors, I both get money each month from royalties (but not a lot) and I get free access to the site, which is normally $25 per month. That said, I love it and I would gladly pay.]

Anyhow, it’s just fabulous to have video lessons that I can pause, back up, repeat, and so on. Now I understand why my statistics and research videos on YouTube have been so helpful. (You can see those at youtube.com/bartonpoulson.) I’ve been going through lynda.com’s introductory courses for Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash, and Fireworks. When I have a little time, I hope to go through the courses for Python, CSS, HTML, Google Analytics, typography, etc. Also, the “Creative Inspirations” series is a gem, too. It has extended interviews with prominent professionals where you/I can see all of these tools in use. My personal favorite is with one of my high school heroes, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo. Whee!

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Processing & Baba Yaga: Part 3

The third installment in the Baba Yaga series involves interaction. That is, the hut follows the mouse (with some delay built in), it gets taller if the left mouse button is pressed, shorter if the right button is pressed, and, if any key on the keyboard is pressed, there’s a special, secret surprise! (Well, not so secret because I’ll show it to you below.) I also think it has much cuter graphics. You can try the interactive version at OpenProcessing.org by clicking here.

Here’s the code:

And here’s a still shot of the Nickelodeon-style house:

And the special, secret surprise that you get when you press a key:

Whee!! Fun!!

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