Digital Shiv

Armamentarium of Asymmetrical Memewar

You can imagine how obsessed I am with the idea of getting my hands on a haptic GUI, let alone one that actually tactically transforms:

Reposted from:

A microfluidic panel lets users push buttons on a flat interface.


Tactus Technology, a startup in Fremont, California, is prototyping touch-screen hardware with buttons that emerge when you need the feel of a physical keyboard and disappear when you don’t. The approach, in which a fluid-filled plastic panel and cylindrical fluid reservoir replace the usual top layer of glass, is among a crop of emerging technologies aimed at adding tactile feedback to make screens feel like old-fashioned keyboards.

Touch screens are ubiquitous: in 2012, 1.2 billion were made for smartphones and 130 million for tablets, and they’re showing up in everything from game consoles to car navigation interfaces. But typing on them can be difficult. Tactus is trying to solve that problem. The company’s cofounder and chief technology officer, Micah Yairi, helped create a multi-layered panel that contains microchannels filled with a proprietary oil. When signaled by, say, a person launching a text-messaging app, an actuator pumps additional fluid into the channels, and buttons rise up from an elastomeric cover. The user then depresses the button slightly to trigger the touch screen and enter the letter or number. When typing is done, the panel reverts to a flat screen for finger-swiping within one second.

Tactus isn’t the only company recognizing a need for screens to offer tactile or so-called haptic feedback. Many phones already have rudimentary versions; tapping a certain button makes the whole phone buzz. Emerging designs include piezoelectric actuators that make the vibrations more localized. (Apple recently filed a patent on such technology.) And other companies, including Disney and a startup called Senseg, are using electrodes to issue minuscule shocks to your finger, simulating a rough texture.

Tactus’s approach, however, is the only one that allows users to orient their finger on the screen before actually depressing the key, or to rest their fingers on buttons without triggering them. Tactus is working to improve the panel’s appearance and create custom demonstrations for equipment manufacturers. One partner collaborating on prototypes is Touch Revolution, a division of the Taiwanese company TPK, one of the world’s largest touch-screen manufactu



Button geometries can be customized during the manufacturing process. In a  tablet or smartphone, software would probably change touch–sensitive areas of the display on the fly so that they’d align precisely with button shapes. This would prevent accidental keystrokes when fingers touch areas between raised buttons.

Tactus CEO and cofounder Craig Ciesla, who raised $6 million last year in venture investments, expects products to reach market in late 2013. “It’s really a design tool to give to manufacturers,” he says.


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If you lack Silverlight or the OSS equivalent and can’t see the great video, click on this link:




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Infrared Control Freak – 360  (IRCF360)

New! – a sneak preview from within our development lab

It’s a 360 degree multifunctional programmable sensor that has a bundle of cool features for sensing for your Maker, Robot and Kinetic art type projects -  including:

  • 360 degree proximity sensing for robot or maker projects using Arduino or similar
  • ambient light sensing 
  • Sony SIRC remote control transmit and receive
  • Interface via serial to microcontrollers
  • 3D / 360 degree HID sensor

The product is planned to be launched soon – after we have done some more testing!  Detailed pre-release documentation can be found under the following heading:

Register you interest here

If you would like us to keep you informed on the product launch or would like to purchase a pre-production version just fill in the registration form -> here

Features & Benefits

See the benefits of this 360 degree sensor compared to other solutions -> see details

Benefits and Features

Features & Benefits – Overview

  • Interface to Adruino, Processing, Java script for mechatronic and robot projects
  • 360 degree proximity sensing an example -> here
  • Ambient light sensing for tracking light sources or line following
  • Solid state – i..e no servos or moving parts. no noise – less power consumption
  • Instantaneous 360 degree sensor information (no waiting time for a servo to sweep sensor)
  • Smaller size & lower costs than for equivalent alternative technologies
  • Approx.  2mm – 300mm sensing range
  • Simple RS323 Interfacing
  • Circular Display for instant feedback.
  • Antenna for simple robot touch sensing
  • Multiple output formats (decimal, ascii)
  • Roll-Your Own Firmware
  • Infrared Red Remote Control functionality
  • Inter-robot communication   functionality

Features & Benefits - Details

  • 360 degree proximity sensing - It’s like having eyes at the back of your head!  The sensor can be configured for simultaneous sensing in all 8 directions (a 360 degree scan) or you can probe in any of the 8 specified directions (N, NE, SE, S, SW,,W, NW). This allows a robot to ‘see’ in-front (when going forward)  or behind (when reversing). And at the same time monitoring other directions to determine relative movement of other robots or objects. Visual feedback via the LED circular display is also provided. Also 8 real-time proximity data values are sent, via the RS232 port, to your  microcontroller or PC application for additional interpretation or filtering. Connected to an PC, Mac or microcontroller such as an Arduino, it can also be used as a 360 interactive user interface – like this midi interface  example -> here  or 3D HID sensor here
  • Ambient light sensing is included  - allowing your project to also measure ambient light intensity. This is great for Adriuino projects that need to sense day or night – light or dark. Also fun for robot games such as maze running, swarm simulation (search for light as food), photovore and photophobe robot experiments. The light sensors could also be adopted to follow black lines on the floor for line following robot. The lights sensors are connected to a 10bit A2D analogue to digital converter,  so other sensor types could also be attached too
  • Infrared Red Remote Control - Receive and transmit Sony SIRC Infrared TV remote control commands to control your project remotely
  • Inter-robot communication - Transmit Sony SIRC Infrared remote control commands for basic remote communication and control of IR devices. Essential for robot gaming or swarms where simple messages need to be broadcast to other robots such as “I found food!”   
  • Simple RS323 Interfacing - Sending program instructions to the IRCF360 is easy using a simple 3 pin RS232 asynchronous serial communication. This is available on most micro-controllers such as PICAXE, Basic Stamp, Arduino, Amicus, Pinguino, Megabitty, Pololu, etc.. Serial connection is 9600 baud, no parity, 1 stop bit – True (i.e. not inverted).
  • Circular Display - Visual feedback via a circular LED display allows you to see the results instantly. The circular display is also programmable, which means you can include amazing visual effects within your own microcontroller program (e.g. get LED’s to fade-up / fade-down, spinning LED’s, illuminating individual LED’s). The circular display gives your project an individual personalty by building expressions, emotions or just general feedback on the current state of your application (e.g sleeping, scanning, searching, recharging, etc.). It’s also especially helpful when debugging your programs (e.g. Light up a different LED for each subroutine your application is currently running).
  • Antenna - Attach ‘feelers’ to the front of the robot for additional proximity sensing and tactile feedback
  • Multiple output formats - Output via the RS232 serial port is in decimal, ASCII or delimited ASCII for connection to all types of  microcontroller application, PC application (such as ( or simply a delimited spreadsheet file.
  • Solid State - All this functionality without any moving parts, such as servos or gears! This keeps your design very simple, saves costs and reduces power consumption from your batteries
  • Smaller Size & Lower Costs - Much smaller size and lower costs compared to combining other types of IR sensors together to achieve the same effect
  • Roll-Your Own Firmware - Pin-for-pin compatible to the PICkit2 programmer (from microchip) for direct programming of your own code. (Libraries will be available soon)


  • A perfect ‘shield’ for any Arduino or other microcontroller project. Small enough to fit into small hand-help case
  • Connect to PC (via logic leveller) and develop your own sketches. Examples have been:
    • 3D interactive midi interface to create 3D music effect and 3D hand held drum machine
    • Perfect for interactive art or even wearable electronics building impressive LED feedback emotions
    • Hand held games using IR sensors
  • Ideal for micro robot application, especially  where small sensor size is required (e.g. 50mm x 50mm). Fits directly on top of a small robot controller such as Pololu Orangutan which includes two motor controllers
  • Build a swarm fully autonomous robots with with programmable and natural emergent behaviour. The robots can work using biological algorithms to complete a task as a group and to exhibit a collective swarm memory 
  • This little intelligent sensor is perfect for sumo competitions,  micro combat robot competitions and swarm robot navigation. Here are some videos taken directly from within the lab to give you some ideas of what’s coming
  • “Canned” functionality,  which means “pre-programmed” functionality ‘out the can’ –  without months of headache and painful programming or messing around with your own circuits
  • Simple to assemble – even for the novices technology enthusiasts. Takes about 30 minutes
  • Great for classroom training and flexible to be re-used for many experiments covering wide range of topics




Digital Shiv is returning for Create Digital Music’s big re-launch event!  Tonight marks the close of the first chapter of my project to re-imagine computer-aided music-making as the “architectural skeleton” is finalized after having expanded from 7 main sub-domains to, oh, about 33 or so.  Such is the complexity of modern life, I guess.  Perhaps I’ll have to spend less 15-hour days in febrile design and scattershot research and can devote myself to a core competency of mine:  lexiphanic raving. A lot has happened while I was absent from my beloved Noisepage.  Here’s an example:

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There’s also a new “video game kit” at adafruit industries which, from a DIY music hardware hacking perspective, has, for $$22.50 USD, RCA outputs for graphics and audio (as opposed to trying to integrate an overly-expensive and absurdly-primitive LCD and writing a custom driver for the damned thing) as well as ability to handle two Wiimote controllers.

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Hath thou forgotten me?  It’s been a while since I last poked my head out like Punxatawny Phil (May 20th was the last time I cast my shadow upon the topic of multimodal HCI for computer-aided music-making) and what’s changed?

Out there in the interwebs:  a lot of vaporware come and gone and a lot, a lot of hype about truly non-groundbreaking computer-music innovations.  I myself have labored almost constantly, Sisyphean, to design a way out of this impasse.  The hardest part of the learning curve?  Knowing which areas of human knowledge to even bring to search for answers to the millions of questions I had begun to answer but didn’t know how to implement, coming from a background with essentially none of the requisite skills.  But specialization wasn’t going to be the solution, I’d long known, but conversely taking a giant step back from the piano roll and rotary encoders and taking in a panoramic perspective and then having the cojones to think big enough to craft a vision of an architectural revolution instead of trying to fix each outstanding issue in-place when, in fact, it was the technological lock-in an cultural inertia which has cause a sort of “bellum omnium contra omnes” where every single part had to somehow simultaneously be evolved for the corpus itself to transcend to the next level.  I believe I am at the point where I’ve got the overarching framework in place, the wildly-disparate major sub-categories are designed and harmonized and I’ve finally reached a point where I can step back and begin knitting together the various strands of strategies to get some real examples implemented and get the ball rolling.  More than anything I need to recruit partners, allies, advisors and sympathetic experts but it looks like I won’t be pushing that boulder uphill alone for much longer.  It’s been quite a journey.

I’m not going to get into all that craziness today aside from the foregoing rant and to say wherever I land next gesticulating wildly and prophesying the sandwich board will be inscribed with the word Téleophṓnēma, the working title for the project.

But it’s my damned birthday this weekend and the kings of Serendib surprised me with a link to purchase something I’d long been trying to get my hands on but only the “OEM keiretsu” (and, though I don’t know how they do it, the Kirfers in  深圳市 are privy to:  a multi-touch Synaptics ClearPad!  It arrived in the mail just yesterday.

Anyone out there from CDM happen to know offhand a good resource for dealing with whatever connector that ribbon is and how to solder a SPI, USB, or some UART connection to it?  …I didn’t say I knew what to do with it once I got it but my partner-in-rhyme, Armz, should be moseying on over to my place to put in some time prototyping any minute now and maybe he’ll have some ideas.

Great news!  Olivier Sens, the creator of (and fully 1/3rd of the development team for) Sensomusic Usine, has set all of the “add-ons” for this greatest of live-oriented, modular VST-hosting DAWs, free:

“Good news for all Usine free Users:
Get more than 200 Add-ons and ready-made patches for free.
Just register on the forum (it’s totally free).”

The “add-ons” of Usine are essentially higher-order preset/patches of core modules, in the following categories:

Audio effects (29), Groove makers (14), Sampling tools (12), Midi tools (29), Data tools (21), Synchro and Time tools (6), Analysis (3), Synthesis (5), Templates and skins (1), Others (45)

 The add-ons come in a wide variety and some are quite complex, useful and/or amazing.  Here’s simple “parallel multi fx”


FX patch made with 3 free VSTs to be installed first :
Chorus :
Delay :
Reverb :
You can set volumes, dry/wet level, and mute each effect with an optional “pre mute” for delay and reverb.
Cut the dry signal on each preset (you can access the VST pannels by clicking on their name in the patch interface).
Of course you can replace these VSTs by your own.

Or check our “ns usinome lite” by nay-seven:

“8 Multi sequences with 4 different direction , each sequence can have his own midi note and synchronization
can be send to a drum VSTI or multi samplers”

Perhaps this will convince you of the Sensomusic team and user community’s ingenuity… Senso’s “Mackie Control Emulation V1

  ”This patch is an example of a Mackie Control implementation in Usine.

Before to use it, read the tip
How to use Usine as a Midi Controller

It respects the MackieControl specification but the Master Section part is more specifically designed for Ableton Live. Fortunately it can be easily adapted to any host.

General Features
Host independent features (works in all hosts).
For 8 Tracks:
-volume (1-8)
-Mute (1-8)
-Solo (1-8)
-Select (1-8)
-Rec or arm (1-8)
-Pan (1-8)
-Retrieve automatically the track names from the host.

Master section

-Master Volume
-Master Rec

Ableton Live specific(Features adapted to Ableton Live)

-Show Browser button
-Loop ON/OFF
-Punch In ON/OFF
-Punch Out ON/OFF
-Previous Line
-Next Line
-Launch Clip
-Launch Scene”

Usine is my favorite DAW and a brilliant piece of software which I unabashedly recommend to anyone wishing to explore the absolute cutting edge of computer-hosted live musical performance. It’s been updated to version 5.17, with version 5.15 being the most recent major release:

Usine 5.15
Another important release which fixes most of reported issues and add few new features.
You should download it.

- Usine is now 20% faster
- PitchBend midilearn allowed
- new Buses templates
- better zooming in the sequencer
- better zooming in the pianoroll
- new object panel settings in the sequencer
- mp3 files are now converted and stored for a faster reloading
- new MouseDown outlet in faders, buttons, etc.
- new OFFcaption parameter in Switch module

fixed bugs
- midi learn on preset buttons can freeze Usine
- various more or less important bugs.
- MidiYoke issues”

Shameful confession:  I’ve been so busy with my hardware/software/multi-touch/musical communications protocol-project that I allowed my yearly Usine license to lapse (it’s about $43 a year).  Course, the free version of Usine (and Usine VST, which you can load into other DAWs!!!) barely has any restrictions compared to the full version; I pay the license fee because I believe strongly in supporting the Sensomusic team’s efforts.  No one’s living off the proceeds of Usine, even!  Not the least of which is because it is not for beginners, or those with simple, basic requirements from their DAW.  Course, nothing else even remotely compares to the potential of Usine:  if you an idea, it’ll let you implement it somehow.  Something which very much cannot be said for any other DAW.

Here’s what I said in my last post about Usine, in case you’re unfamiliar with it still:

First, to quote (just because I like the site):

Sensomusic has announced the release of Usine 5.0, a universal audio software especially designed for live or studio utilization.

Usine is made by musicians and audio engineers to respond to their specific problems in a lot of domains like live sampling, effect processing or sound design. Usine is a real musical instrument, flexible and powerful if you like to transform, resample the sound on stage, improvise and create unusual effect.

Changes in Usine v5.0

  • Gesture and Multi-touch Implementation – All design modules can receive Multi-Touch and Gesture informations that you can use directly in all the patches to create very ergonomic systems.
  • Video Tracker Module – Enables audio interaction with a camera. Motion detection, dark zones and light zones.
  • Intelligent Auto Wiring – Fast auto wiring system to build patches faster than ever… For that just Drag&Drop a Module or a VST directly on the wire to insert it in the process chain.
  • New Grid concept – The new Grid mode mixes row/cell presentation and interface builder mode.
  • Surround – Built-in 16 channels surround mixer and aux buses. If it’s not enough, all audio modules can handle up to 64 channels. Direct surround recording in the Sampler
  • VST’s layouts – Total integration of VST’s in personal interfaces. Vst’s forms can now be located in controls panels or in interfaces.
  • Patch window – The Patching area is now a stand alone window to improve paching in dual screens systems.
  • New layouts – Serious improvements of interface building. All controls are now resizable and with new layouts possiblilities.
  • More than 300 improvements and modifications, especially a new engine, more powerful and lighter.

Usine Pro is available to purchase for Windows PC (standalone/VST) for a promotional price of 90 EUR until March 31, 2010 (regular 120 EUR). An educational license is available for 50 EUR, and a limited but fully functional free version can be downloaded.

Usine is it. There’s simply nothing else like it.

Reasons that I love Usine:

  1. did you catch the bit about every module being able to receive Multi-Touch and Gesture commands? and the video-tracking module? we’re getting into VR UI terrain, here
  2. greatest damned developer and community support – shit, if you have a problem or an idea, they’re likely to simply create the solution for you, out of helpfullness and curiosity
  3. song arrangement per part automation Scenes – you can set up songs so that they’ll automatically or at a command (a MIDI button, keyboard note, qwerty key, etc.) change Scene which can reassign all your hardware, VSTs, modules, etc. so that if you’re playing on multi-zone keyboard part for the bridge but change plug-ins, patches, scale/mode, whatever, then it all changes automatically without your having to lift a finger; all MIDI is able to be remapped and transformed so that no matter what hardwired CC#s your hardware sends out, for instance, it can dynamically be re-assigned to the plug-in parameters you actually need to control for that song part, and change them all for the next song, too.
  4. the GUI is divorced from the underlying loaded plug-ins – you can create, customize, and assign any Usine UI element (knob, slider, grid sequencer, physics-behavior X-Y pad, etc.) to whatever loaded VST’s parameter you’d like, so that the interface only shows (user-labeled) controls for the things you actually need to control; no having to have 20 plug-in windows visible to see the value change feedback for whatever external hardware knobs and buttons you’ve assigned them to – this is a necessary precursor to using a multi-touch monitor as a control surface, too, as how could you possibly twiddle the tiny VST GUI knobs?
  5. it’s damned cheap, and you’re supporting a tiny team of developers who work relentlessly to advance the state of digital music performance – Olivier himself created Usine for himself and only later decided, at great personal cost, to share it with the world, and I thank my blessed start that he did
  6. all data and audio signal chains are fully modular – if you want to create abstruse aux buses, parallelized routing splits (one stereo chain split, say, at the third plug-in into three completely unique sub-chains) or side-chains in whatever crazy configuration you’d like – also, these chain’s can be assigned to switch or turn on/off to internal parameter controls, so that you can do something so seemingly simple as have a guitar’s clean, distorted, and lead/solo chains all set up and switchable at the press of a foot controller stomp button… or something vastly more wrongheaded like I personally like to do

Plus, there’s a free version! This included both the standalone free version as well as a VST version, so that Usine can be hosted within your DAW of choice (!?!). So check it out, with these caveats:

Usine’s drawbacks

  • the learning curve is steep – I’ve been using it for years and I don’t consider myself an expert in it’s use! the Sensomusic team is working on an “easy” version, so if your needs are simple you may want to check that out; I am of the opinion that Usine’s the only DAW that, if you need to do something, it’s going to have a way to do it, no limitations. I even got, on request, a module to send a non-master tempo to individual VSTs and modules
  • you’re not going to want to score too many complex MIDI note parts in Usine – they’re working on that, too, but I’ve been spoilt by FL’s piano roll and arranger which, while it has some drawbacks stemming from the loop-oriented paradigm (how in fuck are you supposed to add a simple flam before a bar? you can, but it’s fiddly and anti-intuitive) but it’s still the best, by far, for workflow of any DAW – Usine’s seen some improvements in this area but, as it’s a live-oriented performance host, it’s just icing on the cake – it has plenty of sequencer modules if you really feel like composing live


New Grid concept
The new Grid mode mixes row/cell presentation and interface builder mode.
Built-in 16 channels surround mixer and aux buses. If it’s not enough, all audio modules can handle up to 64 channels.
Direct surround recording in the Sampler.
VST’s layouts
Total integration of VST’s in personal interfaces. Vst’s forms can now be located in controls panels or in interfaces.
Patch window
The Patching area is now a stand alone window to improve paching in dual screens systems.
New layouts
Serious improvements of interface building. All controls are now resizable and with new layouts possiblilities.

How on Earth did I miss this press release?  I’ve been closely studying Cypress’s TrueTouch capacitive multi-touch technology for a long time, and this news is months old:

The inclusion of multi-touch support in the Windows 7 operating system has opened up the large laptop, netbook and tablet PC market to touchscreen interfaces. Multi-touch capability is a key requirement for enabling designers to develop innovative applications and ways for the user to interact with his or her PC.

“With the current buzz around tablet PC products, this technology is one of the hottest new capabilities from Cypress,” said Dhwani Vyas, vice president of the User Interface Business Unit at Cypress. “Our TrueTouch touchscreen solution was the industry’s first to offer multi-touch all-point tracking of unlimited fingers for the mobile phones and our extension of this technology into the emerging market of medium and large screen touchscreens is a natural place for Cypress to provide technology leadership again. We continue to break new ground with features and capabilities that empower designers to bring their user interface visions to fruition.”

Cypress’s TrueTouch family of devices enables designers to create new usage models for products such as tablet PCs, notebooks, netbooks, mobile handsets, portable media players (PMPs), GPS systems and other products. TrueTouch technology provides the industry’s most flexible touchscreen architecture, allowing designers to implement differentiated features with Cypress’s legendary noise immunity based on patented capacitive sensing technology for flawless operation in noisy RF and LCD environments.

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: CY) today demonstrated a tablet-sized capacitive touchscreen technology with unlimited finger tracking capability. Cypress has released a video, available at, which features a demonstration of a user manipulating multiple pictures on the screen simultaneously. The technology, based on Cypress’s industry-leading TrueTouch™ touchscreen solution for smaller-size portable electronics, will power touchscreens between 7 and 17 inches with full multi-touch support.

 You think your band is retro?  Check this post from the BBC:

The BBC Technology index has been writing about makers, hackers and other assorted tinkerers for over a year.  Time, then, to see if any of the skills and crafts we have filmed and written about have rubbed off.

All we needed was a project.

As if on cue, an e-mail fell into the inbox from Allegra Hawksmoor who told us about a band called The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. One track of their next album, called Now That’s What I Call Steampunk – Volume One, will be available on a wax cylinder. The CD album and single wax cylinder track will be available from 1 June.

“As far as we’re aware, it’s the first album to be sold with (at least a partial) wax cylinder release for the best part of a century,” she said.

Anyone buying one of the 40 copies of the track on wax will also get instructions for building a phonograph to play the cylinder.

My friend and colleague de la Mancha sent out an email that may be of interest to readers here… reminds me that I should probably say, “hi” to him more than once every couple months.  I can personally vouch for the products of dlM, H.G. Fortune and Ugo but I am personally unfamiliar with the others:

the Indie Dev Collective sale has been extended an extra week! – Sale now ends on June, 7th!

Not only is the sale extended, but for this final week the bonus sale items are freely available for purchase!

This means you can pick up erratic, dirtbox, sidearm, bathtub, unstable, subhuman or pitchfork at reduced prices.

There are more than 90 products on sale from these developers and sound designers

Dangerous Bear Underground
de la Mancha
Dusted William Sounds
H.G. Fortune
Hardcore Harmonics/Supersynths
Impact Soundworks
Nucleus Soundlab
Perimeter Sound Arts
Westgate Sounds



(btw – for a preview of my next release, due on 1st June, click here and here)

Sorry that I was gone so long yet again. I promise I’ve been twenty times busier than ever before while incommunicado, though. The first, physical prototype of my wireless, multi-touch music controller/instrument is being assembled. The company whose technology we chose to begin development on turned out to be all-but-vaporware (their hardware, strangely, continues to develop in great leaps but their SDK and operating system are a pathetic joke… which is baffling; how could this be?).

No matter. I’ve learned a lot in the last 900 hours of feverish research, brainstorming and designing. I’m quite ill today so for the time being all I’ll say is a lot more interesting news, commentary and hard-won information will be forthcoming anon.

FlatFrog, who appears to lead the pack in multi-touch display development start-ups, has released a demo video of their FlatFrog 4000.  FlatFrog has the unusual distinction of actually answering queries from prospective customers and/or partners.  I’d already have bought a batch of their tech if they had the size I need, but unfortunately for me they’re starting big and working their way down to smaller sizes.

Extra credit question: anyone recognize the physical model-based drawing software for educators that you see a glimpse of in the demo video? It’s been a while since I saw it, but I’m still incredibly intrigued by it.


Jenn K. Lee from Pocketables has posted a review of the Fujitsu LifeBook UH900 (LOOX U/G90), and it’s one of the best I’ve read in a long time.  Here are her conclusions:

“The best configuration, available from and reviewed below, is more expensive than other UMPCs and MIDs on the market, but its specs are unrivaled for a portable computer of its size and weight. Read my full review to find out of it’s worth the premium price.

System Specifications (as reviewed)

Comparing the size of the UH900 to an iPhone

Comparing the size of the UH900 to an iPhone

2.0GHz Intel Atom Z550
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
Storage: 30GB SSD (Toshiba 1/2 SATA, SG series)
Display: 5.6″ touchscreen (1280 x 800, 16M colors, multitouch)
Wireless: 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, WiMAX
Size: 8.3″ x 4.2″ x 1.1″
Weight: 1.08 lbs (17.2 oz)

Note: The US version of the UH900 is only available with 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, 62GB SSD, GPS, and no WiMAX. The Japanese model, as reviewed here, is offered in several different configurations and does not have GPS.

Despite its abysmal battery life, useless multitouch, and toy-like build quality, there’s something about the Japanese version of the Fujitsu LifeBook UH900 that makes it really enjoyable to use. Whether it’s the 2.0GHz Intel Atom processor, built-in WiMAX, touch-typable keyboard, excellent mouse controls, great performance, zippy SSD, or a combination of all those elements, I find it hard to put the elongated clamshell down.

An extended battery is available, the device is perfectly usable without tapping the touchscreen, and it’s attractive despite its creaky hardware, so much of the UH900′s shortcomings are negated for me. Some have taken issue with the display quality as well, but I’m satisfied with its warmth (what others call a yellow tint) and don’t notice the touch layer grid in my usage. Whether I’m just a hopeless optimist for appreciating the UH900′s fine qualities and accepting its flaws, I would still recommend the device as a travel companion and supplement to a full-sized notebook. It’s one of the most expensive UMPCs on the market right now, but the good outweighs the bad for me.

If you’re thinking about buying the UH900, you should seriously consider the Japanese version that was the subject of this review. It may not have GPS, but I think WiMAX and a 2.0GHz CPU are more important and useful for a mini notebook than turn-by-turn directions.”

My take on this is that, looking at an UMPC as a wireless control surface, I’d prefer this tiny size and weight for use on stage regardless of whether the dual-touch and image rendering allow one to use the pinch-to-zoom and such relatively primitive Windows 7 Touch gestures so long as the latency for on-screen GUI manipulation is acceptible, and there’s really no way to tell from this review.  I can’t imagine people who aren’t digital musicians even give thought to such features.  But despite the cost this little dual-touch clamshell has specs that lift it out of the realm of being a toy like the netbooks with sub-2Ghz processors.  Weighing only one pound I could see this being attacked directly to some other portable stage gear but I’d have to get my hands on one to be able to really tell whether it’d be worth it at even half the price.  Great, great review, though!

I caught this link from

“Sascha Pallenberg at (known as the Netbook King) sits down with three of the newer netbooks on the market and checks them out. In the video he’s look at the Gigabyte T1000, Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t, and Viliv S10 Blade all of which have touchscreens. It’s a quick look at each, but Sascha knows his stuff and hits the key points well. Check it out.”

Here’s the video.  But what caught my eye was that the Viliv s10 is smaller, lighter and has three, count them, three simultanous touchpoint recognition in it’s hardware, which he said was resistive touch.  This is really quite exciting news as, for instance, using an onscreen piano-type keyboard or twiddling one’s knobs and faders in the DAW or with VST plug-ins is pretty much useless with two touches, considering I have got a 14″ single-touch touchscreen for $40 off eBay and dual-touch just doesn’t add that much functionality… especially when you’ve got to buy a whole underpowered netbook just to get the touch display.

I got this article from GottaBeMobile even earlier in the day, and while he says the technology doesn’t include palm rejection (something I’d think one could work into the software later) it looks pretty good except he had Aero turned on in Windows 7 so the video shows much worse performance than you could reasonably expect without it.

“Disappointing but not unexpected news. Steve “Chippy” Paine of UMPCPortal got his hands on the Viliv S10 Blade and does a quick unboxing and tour of the device. I’m not sure why I was hoping for better but as the video shows, the Blade doesn’t cut it if you want to use the stylus for any Inking at all. Yep, it fails the palm rejection test. I don’t know about you, but it seems quite silly to me to go to the trouble to include a stylus which hints at Inking, and not even consider the issue of how a user is going to respond when they see all that vectoring. I’ll just say it. It’s a FAIL on that account.

Beyond that Chippy seems to like the device although he notes that if you have Windows Aero turned on, you’ll find the device running considerably slower.”

Personally, I’ll trade having to be careful with my palm resting on the screen for the thriple-touch touchscreen any day.  Course, as a musician wanting this technology primarily as an ever-changing UI control surface I have different needs than a graphic designer or whomever.

This comes from physorg:

“The micro-ear is being developed by scientists from the University of Glasgow, the University of Oxford, and the National Institute of Medical Research at Mill Hill in the UK. It’s based on the same laser technique that is used to create optical tweezers, which measure tiny forces on small scales.

“We are now using the sensitivity afforded by the optical tweezer as a very sensitive microphone,” said Jon Cooper from the University of Glasgow, who is heading the micro-ear project.

While optical tweezers work by suspending tiny electrically-charged beads in a single beam of laser light, the micro-ear concept consists of several of these light beams arranged in a ring in order to surround and eavesdrop on a tiny object. Sound emitted from the object causes the beads suspended in the light to vibrate, and these vibrations can be measured by a high-speed camera.

The scientists have already used the micro-ear to listen to Brownian motion – the random movement of particles in a fluid. They also plan to use the device to listen to bacterial flagella, the tail-like motors that propel bacteria through their environments. Currently, in order to study the movement of flagella, scientists have to genetically engineer bacteria to enable beads to be stuck to their flagella, and observe the beads with a camera. The micro-ear will hopefully make it possible to observe natural bacteria in a non-invasive way.”

Having recently seen movies where the SONAR operators of submarines identify various things in the water by ear using the sense of hearing to detect patterns that would escape our more visually-oriented brethren appeals to me.  Plus, I’d love to get my hands on such a unique source of sample material!

As you can probably imagine my utter disbelief than anyone can bring a true multi-touch LCD display to the retail market means I’ve contacted 3M about their 10-finger multi-touch monitor SDK and, after discovering that the cost is rather prohibitive, have been watching like a hawk for news of an off-the-shelf product.  Well, I just picked this up on their site:

3M Display M2256PW

The 22-inch 3M Display M2256PW, featuring industry-leading technology from its fast 10-finger multi-touch input to its high-definition, wide viewing-angle LCD, delivers revolutionary performance designed to exceed the requirements of the most demanding professional and prosumer applications.

The 3M Display M2256PW display incorporates 3M Projected Capacitive Technology and offers full multi-touch capabilities with less than 15 millisecond response time for 10 simultaneous touches. This means fast, accurate touch response over the entire touch surface.

Traditional multi-touch solutions often work with 2-finger control, while full multi-touch from 3M allows users and developers to experience 10-finger interactions. This 10-finger interaction combined with unmatched touch precision, accuracy and speed is transforming the way people interact with technology.

The 3M Display M2256PW, 3M’s first product to combine the revolutionary 3M Projected Capacitive Technology with a high-definition LCD display, creates an unmatched user experience for applications ranging from social networking to urban planning and solid modeling.”

That information isn’t exactly a revelation, but the ship date estimation on their contact page is:

“Thank you for registering to receive updated information on the 22-inch 3M Display M2256PW, 3M’s new 10-finger multi-touch display.
This product is scheduled to ship in volume in the late-March/early-April time frame. As the availability date gets closer, we’ll be sending you updates on where you can purchase this product around the world.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please e-mail or call 888-659-1080″

In the picture above, which I grabbed from a site in Arabic, I’m not really sure why engadget’s logo is drawn on there except perhaps due to how much people love to appropriate it.M2256PW

[ update ]

Just a picture I thought demonstrated a great, great feature of the m2256PW:  adjustability!

What a surprise that the MPAA and RIAA are once again trying to bully people!  Woking for them must be like the Standford Prison Experiment.  You just might want to read this Technology Blog article:

“Guadamuz has done some digging and discovered that an influential lobby group is asking the US government to basically consider open source as the equivalent of piracy – or even worse.


It turns out that the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella group for organisations including the MPAA and RIAA, has requested with the US Trade Representative to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil and India for its “Special 301 watchlist” because they use open source software.

What’s Special 301? It’s a report that examines the “adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights” around the planet – effectively the list of countries that the US government considers enemies of capitalism. It often gets wheeled out as a form of trading pressure – often around pharmaceuticals and counterfeited goods – to try and force governments to change their behaviours.

Now, even could argue that it’s no surprise that the USTR – which is intended to encourage free market capitalism – wouldn’t like free software, but really it’s not quite so straightforward.

I know open source has a tendency to be linked to socialist ideals, but I also think it’s an example of the free market in action. When companies can’t compete with huge, crushing competitors, they route around it and find another way to reduce costs and compete. Most FOSS isn’t state-owned: it just takes price elasticity to its logical conclusion and uses free as a stick to beat its competitors with (would you ever accuse Google, which gives its main product away for free, of being anti-capitalist?).

Still, in countries where the government has legislated the adoption of FOSS, the position makes some sense because it hurts businesses like Microsoft. But that’s not the end of it.

No, the really interesting thing that Guadamuz found was that governments don’t even need to pass legislation. Even a recommendation can be enough”

Continue reading here.

The end quote is about all I can bring myself to comment on this:

“If you’re looking at this agog, you should be. It’s ludicrous.

But the IIPA and USTR have form here: in recent years they have put Canada on the priority watchlist.”

Slashgear brings news of a new multi-touch monitor platform, apparently for OEMs:

“While they’re obviously not the only company pushing a touchscreen system, Neonode reckon zForce Pad has a few key advantages over rival resistive and capacitive panels.  For a start, zForce Pad has no overlay and so doesn’t occlude whatever display panel is being used; it’s also thinner and apparently cheaper to implement.  There’s an integrated ambient light sensor and of course multitouch gesture support.”

The Press Release says,

“Neonode offers touch solutions that are many times more cost effective than any other high performance touch solutions in the market today. zForce incorporates all functionality and performance features from traditional touch solutions like resistive and capacitive. zForce supports high resolution pen input, multi-finger touch, gestures like zooming combined with superior picture quality. zForce is currently being integrated into products such as mobile phones, mobile internet devices, e-books, digital picture frames and tablet PC’s”

Given their feature list mentioning pinch-to-zoom more than once it’s probably dual-touch and not true multi-touch, but thin and hi-rez are never bad things in a touch display.  Given the “pen input” support, and the product’s name, I suspect the silver lining is that their displays will be pressure-sensitive which is every bit as important as recognizing more than two touchpoints.

In what dialect of the English language does “multiple” not imply “more than two?”

Handmade Music Minneapolis #1 is coming up fast here near where I rest my head on this planet.  Maybe I’ll see you there:

“The first handmade music is coming up on the 25th @ the Hack Factory. The itinerary is being worked on currently as more info becomes available we will be posting it here.

Sneak peak: we have procured a sound system and are planning on having a little performance at the end of night, and lots of people at Saturday’s minne-faire have shown interest in the event, it should be fun.

We are exploring some ideas for the first time around, so please if you have some ideas or thoughts worth sharing about handmade music or perhaps you have been to an similar event and know what works, please share. You can comment on this post or email myself at sobczak.paul at Gmail or Pat if he wants to post his email.

Hi, this is Pat.  Feel free to email me at lifeisnoise at gmail or post on the forums or tcmaker google group.

More on Handmade Music over at Noisepages

First Update:

I’m thinking a fun project we could do is 555 “throwies” that I’ve been working on.  It’s an idea that is still in development (I built one prototype which I gave away), so it could be fun.  I’ll try to build one and post a pic later today.
Wayne (wammie) also has some speech synthesis chips that could be fun to play with.

We are looking for 2 acts to perform each set will be 30 minutes long, but we would like the artists to walk us through exactly what they brought to the stage, nobody is currently booked so if you are interested let us know.

February 18 update:

People have been wondering what this even is really all about, to get to the bottom of it I offer the following justification.

Handmade Music: Minneapolis is trying to cultivate a DIY music scene in Minneapolis, by having these open nights at the Hack Factory for people who make sonic machines to socialize and share ideas. (Note: This is basically the same goal as TC Maker has but just narrowed down to musics.)

Wayne will be bringing 2 or possibly three of the SN76477 chips to the event.

Talking to him last night about the chip, he had these up and running about 15 years ago so there is no telling if they still work but it should be fun to try. There are a few suggestions on the data sheet of setups to try, see the suggested setups from the data sheet:

The mothership connection again from the data sheet has the following setup:

I think we will try to set up one of the first ones. And possibly someone will wire up the mothership connection and bring it to a future event. If in the mean time you at home are interested in messing around with this chip there is a newer version of it here.

There has been some interest in performance but nobody has jumped forward as of yet so if you are interested let us know. There will be no compensation this time around as we are not charging for the event at all, that said, if you have been looking for a venue to show off what you have been working on this might be it, read it doesn’t have to be a finely tuned, a bit of sonic tom-foolery is welcome.

Also If you are currently working on or with with any of the following things:

  • DIY Analog/Digital Synths
  • Max/Msp
  • SuperCollider
  • Pd
  • Arduino
  • Circuit Bending
  • Instrument building ect…

We are looking to find people to teach classes at The Hack Factory if you are interested and have some ideas of things you would like to do in the future let us know and we start to set it up.

For those new to The Hack Factory we do have some things if you want to build a kit or do a bit of trouble shooting during the night, We have a few soldering irons and 1 (1/2) oscilloscopes, a dc power supply and a few other things so you can bring pretty much anything to put together. We don’t have any electrical components yet so if you have some that you would like to donate that would be great.”

I’m reposting some of this article on “a major victory for Open Souce,” but you can read it in it’s entiretly here on

About the Author: Bruce Perens, creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of Open Source and the criterion for Open Source software licensing, was an expert witness in the Jacobsen v. Katzer court case. He tells the story of the legal wrangling that produced a historic victory for Open Source:

Jacobsen v. Katzer is closed, after five years. Open Source won, and big. A manufacturer who attempted to collect royalties from an Open Source developer has lost two patents. As terms of his settlement with the developer, the manufacturer is paying $100,000 to the Open Source developer, has agreed to place himself under a permanent injunction, and has signed a release of any liability to all members of the Open Source project. The case was not “sealed” like so many settled cases, so its documents are available to the public now.

The details are fascinating. Let’s start with the Open Source developer: Bob Jacobsen is a high-energy physicist. He worked on the famous BaBar detector and the array of Linux computers that gathers its data, and he’s now helping to build a new detector. His colleagues took the 2008 Nobel Prize for Physics, using BaBar to understand why the universe has so much more matter than anti-matter (or we wouldn’t be here).

One of the things I enjoy so much about Open Source is the amazing people you meet, like Jacobsen. There were a few people that smart at Pixar when I worked there, but there seem to be tons of them in the Open Source world.

When he’s not working to determine the whichness of the why, Jacobsen is a model train hobbyist. And his involvement in that is just as intense as his professional work. Back in the ’90′s, the digital control of model railroads was standardized. Jacobsen and his Open Source collaborators built JMRI, a set of Java tools for configuring and controlling the trains…”


source link to continue reading the article

Halleluja!  Big Tick has returned to the world of VST plug-in development with a new version of Rhino VSTi and has set the old, classic Big Tick VSTs free, forever!

  • TickyClav Clavinet Emulator
  • Cheeze Machine String Ensemble Synth
  • EP-Station FM Electric Piano
  • Rainbow Antique vsti
  • Angelina Angelina Choir Synth
  • Effects Pack Various sound mangling stuff
  • Dodecaline 12 delay lines version of Hexaline, 12 stereo delays with cross-feedback, parallel or serial modes, up to +/- 100% feedback for ambient special effects.
  • DualDelay
  • ep-phazer 2 independent left/right phasers, full stereo effect, with cross-feedback between left and right channels
  • Hexaline 3 stereo delays with cross-feedback, parallel or serial modes, up to +/- 100% feedback for ambient special effects
  • mabento This plugin ring-modulates incoming audio with sine waves of continuously varying frequency, and runs the result through a state-variable filter. It can often produce unexpected effects, from stuttering rhythms to ambient tones.2 independent left/right ring modulators. Variable (from low-frequency to audio rate) modulators range. Variable modulators shape.
  • Built-in resonant filter.
  • Nastyshaper This free plugin will distort your audio subtly or to the extreme ! Nastyshaper features: Pre and Post gain knobs, 3 different waveshaping functions. Shape 1 has 4 stages, Shapes 2/3 have 2 stages, An 8x oversampling mode for high-quality offline rendering* An 8x oversampling mode for high-quality offline rendering


I love TickyClav.  I love it.  It’s probably what first sold me on the idea of bothering to learn how to make all this crap run on a PC and drag it onto a stage.  And, as a personal/historical note, one of the very first VST instruments I ever used was Rainbow on which I emulated I think about a dozen classic synth sounds (before I was even aware that people did such things – until VSTs allowed for automation tracks to control synthesis, and computers allows storing presets and designing patches I had little interesting in the poor workflow and horrific presets that synths tended to come with for people of my particular age category, which is definitely post-modular analog synths) for my first digital album.  I knew essentially nothing about synthesis, MIDI, freeware, engineering, mastering, etc. etc. at the time, about 7 years ago.  But I still have happy memories (and .fxps) of using a friend’s copy of Rainbow.  And needless to say, I should think, I can recommend Big Tick’s freeware VST effects as I’ve used them all extensively over the years.  Especially the one named after my friends Makunoichi Bento.

Thanks, Big Tick!

To get the “goodies” you must register and then return to the home page and, at least on my PC’s IE8 (didn’t work on Opera) you’ll see a drop-down “login” tab at the top right of page which rapidly retracted out of view so I simply refreshed with my cursor positioned to pounce and catch it before it hid again.  Then go to the download page and a new “goodies” link has appeared for registered users.

I read a lot.  A damned lot.  Every day.  Most of it has nothing to do with technology, gadgets, computers, nor even music.  But sometimes my life of suffering information overload – so that you don’t have to – pays off with gens like this:

AnandTech has this wonderfully geeky (and amazingly informative) article on the trials, tribulations and heroic feats of the ATI

Eyefinity: Im no video game buff but isnt that AC?

Eyefinity: I'm no video game buff but isn't that AC?

 graphics chip engineers from which I quote this portion,

“His desire to do this wasn’t born out of pure lunacy, Carrell does have a goal in mind. Within the next 6 years he wants to have a first generation holodeck operational. A first generation holodeck would be composed of a 180 degree hemispherical display with both positionally and phase accurate sound. We’ll also need the pixel pushing power to make it all seem lifelike. That amounts to at least 100 million pixels (7 million pixels for what’s directly in front of you, and the rest for everything else in the scene), or almost 25 times the number of pixels on a single 30” display.”

Me, too, buddy.  Me too.  The thing is that fully holographic sound has come and gone.  One project I recall was called IOSOUND or something like that, using networked PCs to power the sound positioning and DSP in a 100-speaker circle.

Perhaps my last 15 years of writing specifications, and composing musical arrangements, for virtual reality interfaces has not been in vain.  I am sitting at home with a dual-screen view of emerging, off-the-shelf technology becoming almost affordable enough to do this, word processing documents fanned open for my MIDI-replacing VR automation protocol, and a prototype wireless touchscreen control surface sitting in front of my keyboard.  And I am just some poor schmuck musician, neither a programmer nor an engineer and never once having lived above the nearly-inescapable watermark of the permanent American underclass.  This looks… promising, from where I sit and dream.

Now I’ve got to finish reading this page about porting Android to a new embedded Linux device.

First, you might ask, what is the General Instrument AY-3-8910?  Wikipedia has this to say about it,

“The AY-3-8910 is a 3-voice Programmable Sound Generator (PSG) designed by General Instrument, initially for use with their 16-bit CP1610 or one of the PIC1650 series of 8-bit microcomputers. The 8910 and its variants became popular chips in many arcade games, and was used on, among others, the Intellivision and Vectrex video game consoles and the MSX, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Oric 1, Colour Genie, Elektor TV Games Computer and Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128/+2/+3 home computers as well as the Mockingboard sound card for the Apple II family. It was also produced under license by Yamaha (with minor modifications, I.E. a selectable clock divider pin, and a double-resolution but double-rate volume envelope table) as the YM2149.”

Apparently a gentleman named Sergio Costas Rodríguez has lovingly crafted an emulator of the entire Sinclair Spectrum for Linux under the GPL license, called FBZX:

FBZX is a Sinclair Spectrum emulator, designed to work at full screen using the FrameBuffer or under X-Windows. Its main features are:

  • emulates acurately the Original spectrum (both issue 2 and issue 3), the classic 128K, the Amstrad Plus 2, the Amstrad Plus 2A and the Spanish 128K. This include screen, keyboard and sound (both speaker and AY-3-8912 chip).
  • Screen emulation is extremely acurate, so it can emulate border efects and even atribute efects.
  • Supports Z80 snapshots, both loading and saving, and loading .SNA snapshots.
  • Supports TAP (both read and write) and TZX (only read) tape files, supporting normal speed loading and fast speed loading.
  • Emulates joysticks: kempston, cursor and sinclair.
  • Emulates the Interface I and Microdrive.
  • Based in a new, fully free, Z80 emulator (Z80Free).
  • Is distributed under GPLv3 license.

FBZX uses the SDL libpulse0 and libasound2 libraries, so you need them to be able to run the emulator (unless you recompile it; in that case you can choose which of them to use).”

Now, I am the last person that’s going to pretend to know how to operate an emulator of the Sinclair Spectrum, but my suspicion is that it’ll grant you the ability to create some genuine chiptune sound composing abilities, as it not only emulates the synthesis ship (and the description of “faking” sampling in the Wiki article itself is fascinating) but the speaker itself.  Bravo!

Synthtopia brings the press release from Open Labs, maker of the NeKo and other PC-in-a-control-surface products, touting their new SoundSlate.

What it is, in essense, is a Muse Receptor from another baby’s father.  I’ve never had much good to say about the Receptor except that it bought, and thus runs, our favorite plug-in forum (though not favorite plug-in database), KVR.

It’s not that these products probably don’t do what they say they’re supposed to do.  It’s just that they’re pointless, proprietary, and way, way….. waaaaaaaay too expensive.

Q:  What, exactly, is the selling point of a standalone plug-in hardware box?

A:  It’s for people who don’t know enough about computers to understand that hardware acceleration is still a computer, with an Operating System, regardless of whether you have a display to see it on or interact with the OS’s UI.

Further advice:  A visual, object- and activity-oriented visual display and human interface paradigm is a feature, not a bug.  Learn to use computers or don’t use them at all.  Or ask your kid to explain it and do free tech support like everyone else does.  Or just email me, as I’ve never turned down a request for help yet – for strangers, netifriends or RL friends.  Sheesh.

Also, notably, they’ll claim to be “more efficient” as their proprietary software doesn’t have all the other stuff running in the background that Windows or, to a lesser extent, OSX does.

True… but their processors and RAM come at an extremely premium profit overhead.  My quadcore i7 oc’d to 4.oGhz cost $700 on sale.  That’s $1300 less than these proprietary systems, whose selling point seems to be that they fit in a rack unit.  My tower looks to be about 1 1/2′ by 6″ by 2′ or so from where I’m sitting.  This is not much of a burden to carry around, especially not when you consider what poor drummers put up with.  Worried it’ll break in transport?  Get solid state drives.  Their price is coming down rapidly and they’ll allow your VST folder overflowing with freeware (if you’re on Windows; if you’re on Mac you’re S.O.L. there, and you’re probably well-to-do and don’t care about price anyways) will load whatever you choose faster and your audio tracks and samples will stream forth into RAM with great allacrity.

Plus, on a universal computer, aside from that nice feature of havine a visual interface, you can run whatever software you so choose.  You needn’t settle for the latest pop star’s choice of sample sets – you can buy your own, your very own personalized selection.  And still have money left over, becuase you saved all that money by joining the Third Millennium by becoming computer literate.  I’m not especially pro-computer.  But for a musician the possibilities opened up by the digital revolution are vastly greater than for your average user.  Plus, you can even use your PC’s internet connection to learn everything there is to know about this new field.  I did – I’m useless with hardware except for multifx, unsurprisingly, and never got into any of that overly-complicated analog mumbo jumbo.  Never touched a compressor before I went digital, nor anything MIDI-enabled.  I just went online and learned through practice.  You can too.


I gave a great deal of consideration to buying an Open Labs NeKo when they first came out.  I even saved up the money for one.  Then I educated myself, like I do before every purchase, and bought a shitload more powerful, and user-configurable, hardware and software than the NeKo could ever hope to represent.  Even got me a 14″ touchscreen for $40 on eBay.

Now if someone would only sell a Windows 7 Touch compliant, true multi-touch display for less than $1500 USD!?!

The always-wonderful synthopia just posted this:

“The monome 64 music controller sells for $500 and is only available in limited quantities, which has limited its adoption.

This could change quickly, though.

Stray Technologies’ Will Lindsay has created a working port of Arduinome 3.2 software, a Arduino-based monome clone, controlled by the $50 Bliptronic 5000.

It’s a work in progress, but it means that it should soon be possible to build a monome-compatible device for under $100.

Here’s Lindsay’s cost breakdown:

Total project cost:

Bliptronic: $49, Arduino parts, FTDI cable, etc.. at about $40 – though bulk ordering could get that price down significantly). I already had everything in my workshop. So… a <$100 mini_Monome? yep. I’ll have another in a couple weeks.

Let’s see who’s going to step up to the plate and offer a monome conversion kit….

via waitforVBLANK:

This is the first full running version of Monome software (via Arduinome ) running on my hacked Bliptronic 5000. More info at the blog at”

Now if you know the monome community (and I wish I knew it better – each time I’ve saved up for one they’ve sold out, and I am not safe with a solderer or any other handcraft… which is amazing since both of my parental units were welders and quite the handypeople, so I can’t make use of the DIY kits without running to my partner, Armz, to do it for me…) they aren’t really in it to make a buck, so this might take some of the pressure off their backlog of orders.  Last I heard they want more time to, gasp, make music.  As do I.  Tonight I’m whirling off design specs, awaiting my partner to arrive and code up some more of our MIDI-replacing project on our prototype.  All hail Open Source, access-leveling DIY projects!


[ update ]

An update, again from synthtopia:

“This admittedly not very exciting video captures the final test of something that is pretty exciting – the Bliptronome, which is a monome conversion of the $50 Bliptronic 5000.

Wil Lindsay is making kits available to create your own Bliptronome for $68:

I will be creating a Bliptronic-to-Monome clone conversion kit with PCB, FTDI cable, and all parts (no Arduino needed) including the 4 Potentiometers over the next 3-4 weeks. These kits will cost $68+shipping. I am doing a limited pre-order here to (raise bulk-purchase money and keep the price down) set to ship mid March.

He also plans offer conversions of your provided Bliptronic 5000 for $110.”

Unlike Laptop Magazine, who brings us this video, we know very well who Stantum, maker of the Jazzmutant Lemur multi-touch control surface (with it’s out-of-Digital-Shiv’s bailiwick price range).

“just this week the company announced deals with two global chip makers, ST and Sitronix, for chips to become available to OEMs in the second quarter of this year. That means this enhanced multitouch technology could finally start shipping in laptops and tablets.

Since 2004, Stantum has had a multitouch technology that allows users to touch the display with all ten fingers at once. Moreover, it works with a stylus, so users can seamlessly move back and forth between finger input and, say, handwriting recognition.

The company even recently updated the technology so that it registers finger pressure. In a paint program, for example, when you drag your finger lightly, a faint streak will appear; when you bear down, a thick blot of digital ink will start pooling out from beneath your finger. And artistic apps are only one usage scenario: imagine what game developers could do if our screens registered finger pressure.”

Well, that’s all well and good.  But I’ve got about 10,000 better UI implementation ideas I’d like to try out yet I can’t buy a standalone Stantum display to hook up to my PC.  And I’m not willing to pay $2000 USD for the pleasure of using their extremely basic set-up.  That’s the whole point of wanting access to this technology.  At least I’d get to use Multi-Track Studio and Sensomusic Usine’s multi-touch-enabled DAWs.

Here’s the video.  It doesn’t seem to allow it to be embedded in other sites or I’m an HTML naifette.