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NAMM: Big City Music (Swarmatron, Jomox, Metasonix, and more)

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Once again, one of my main destinations at NAMM was the booth of Big City Music, where I can always find analog synthesizers and exotic electronic musical instruments that defy categorization. There certainly was no shortage of modular systems, including this scary looking yellow box full of Metasonix modules.

Because Metasonix modules, especially the R55 VCO, take a huge amount of current, this case can handle a ridiculous 7500mA. That is half of a standard home electrical line. Other manufacturers besides Metasonix were represented as well. Just to the left of the case one can see the new vactrol filter from Koma Electronic, a module I recently acquired.

On the more exotic end, Leon Dewan of Dewanatron was on hand again this year to demonstrate the Swarmatron (watch as our feline mascot nearly gets carted away on the nearby Mellotron):

I tried my hand at it as well. The ribbon controllers feel different from anything else I have tried playing, but once I got used to the feel I was able to start using the instrument expressively.

Perhaps the most visually intriguing but confounding instrument at the booth was this little geometric puzzle with lighted transparent tubes sticking out in all directions:

It turned out to be a prototype for the Akasha synthsizer from Jomox. Today, J├╝rgen Michaelis from Jomox demonstrated his new device:

In the corner behind the Jomox devices was an increasingly rare analog TV monotor, which was displaying audio from Critter and Guitari instruments rendered using an audio-to-video converter (also by Critter and Guitari).

The simple video converter caught my interest, especially if I decide to do more with video synthesis in the near future.

Thanks as always to the folks at Big City Music for being very hospitable and supportive of CatSynth!

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Building the new CatSynth

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Rather than simply attempt to restore things as they were, we at CatSynth are using this disaster as an opportunity to build an even better site. I am created a new version of CatSynth based on WordPress, and I have already imported all 737 posts. There is quite a bit of clean-up to do, and I have to locate some missing images from more recent posts. I have also had to convert formatting form our old system to WordPress.

Actually, this is turning out to be fun, writing Perl scripts and SQL commands to do all the text and data munging. It is a return to my what I did in my old job circa 2000 at an Internet start-up, and a rather stark contrast to what I do for a living now. With scripting and web hacking, one can realize changes within minutes, rather than the hours or days for a small change in commercial software development.

The next challenges will be getting all the comments into the new site and linking up the old URLs to the new system, so that all the old CatSynth links on the web will still work.

Thanks to everyone who commented this weekend, wishing us well, and (more importantly) wishing ill upon whoever destroyed our site. ;)

Meanwhile, the construction at CatSynth HQ continues, and Luna remains at her temporary abode. We’ll post some pics soon.

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CatSynth.com attacked!

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On the afternoon of November 7, our site CatSynth.com suffered a major cyber-attack!
Everything was erased, all of CatSynth, my professional music website, the popular Mondrian Machine. Everything.

It is possible I can coax my service provider to restore things from a backup. Meanwhile, I have an older full-site backup, and I have recovered all the text and comments through Friday. So hopefully I will be able to restore the site with a few days to a week.

I have also been going over the logs (which were intact after the attack), and I have pieced together exactly when they got in, and to a certain degree, what they did. I would rather not go into technical details, but I can see a script being run, and after that all webpage access starting to fail with “404 not found.” I also found a piece of assembly code left behind. It looks like that was only for clean-up purposes after the deed was done.

As far as I can tell, the only thing done was getting in and erasing the site. There was no evidence that they used their access to send emails or attack other sites, or steal information. They just wanted to destroy the site. I can’t say whether it was a random act of senseless violence – there are people who just attack random sites for fun or bravado. But the timing and fact that all they did was destroy the site suggests it could have been deliberate. Possibly even political. We at CatSynth were outspoken in our support for certain people and issues, but in a mild low-key sort of way. But if an angry person was going through hundreds of sites looking for a vulnerability, we could have just been an easy target.

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Five (or more) Blogs That Make Me Think (The Thinking Blogger Award)

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We were tagged a week or so ago with the “Thinking Blogger Award” by our friend (and fellow mathematics enthusiast) meeyauw. We appreciate meeyauw's endorsement and complete, and encourage readers to check out her other recommendations.

Since the rules are for five recommendations, I decided to break it down using CatSynth's motto:

Cats. We are tagging Megan and the Bad Kitty Cats, for their mix of thoughtful writing and love of cats, and helping to bring our own “Cat Blogging” at CatSynth to another level. Megan also tagged us with a meme recently and I will get on that one soon…

Synthesizers. A slight deviation of the rules, we're spitting this one. Matrixsynth is our starting off point for all explorations synth-related, we've found several interesting instruments and other synth blogs by reading – plus it features Cats and Synths. While Matrixsynth remains focused on its core, Muff Wiggler provides a more eclectic mix of personal commentary often revolving around synthesizers and electronic music.

Music. We recently found a few interesting new-music blogs, including New Music reBlog. The authors add their own writing around music and performances, and follow a lot of the same live improvisation that I do.

Art. I have to give a shout out to Placebokatz for presenting modern art via a black cat. While a lot of the performance or human art is not usually my taste, I expect no more and no less from any real-life art exhibition. Also, pawful, the creator of the visual livecoding Fluxus has at least one page that counts as a blog – I have reported in his projects including Fluxus and Quagmire in the past.

Opinion. Our friend jellypizza combined cat blogging with progressive/liberal political commentary and eclectic references from bygone pop culture and our home in Westchester, New York. We miss Taboo; but we're also grateful for setting this example for the rest of us.

Should any of abovementioned sites choose to participate: please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ?Thinking Blogger Award? with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative gold version if silver doesn?t fit your blog).

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oh-high-oh

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This article goes out to my homegirl Tiffany (and kitty-cat Cleo), who asked for more information about the Buckeye State. Here's a few facts I can immediately access from memory (i.e., without having to go to Wikipedia):

0) Ohio is nicknamed the “Buckeye State” (redundant, but included for completeness).
1) It is the seventh largest state (by population)
2) The capital of Ohio is Columbus.
3) The three largest cities are Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati
4) It is the only state whose three major cities begin with “C”
5) It is bordered by Lake Erie to the north
6) To the south is the Ohio River, from which the state derives its name (duh!)
7) It borders Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and West Virginia.
8) It is tall in the middle and round at both ends
9) Miami University is in Ohio, as opposed to the University of Miami in Florida. This causes much confusion.
10) The Cuyahoga River, which runs through Cleveland, is famous for catching on fire several times. (Generally speaking, rivers are not supposed to do that.)
11) Interstates 90, 80 and 70 all run through Ohio.
12) No Republican has ever been elected President (of the USA) without winning Ohio.
13) The Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team (which begs the question, who did they play against?).
14) The Ohio state quarter has an astronaut and the Wright Brothers' plane on it (as the Wright Brothers and a few astronauts are from the state).
15) William Howard Taft, the “fattest president”, is from Ohio.
16) The Buckeye is a tree, actually the state tree of Ohio.

You can find out lots of things I don't know about Ohio here and plenty of other places by googling “Ohio.”

Please feel free to contribute your own Ohio facts in the “comments” section!


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Winter food ideas from our WCB friends…

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With the extremely cold nights and now the driving rain, winter is again upon us. My least favorite season, but an excuse to stay in and work on projects. Also to cook warm comforting food, like the Mexican Black Bean Soup With Sausage from our weekend-cat-blogging friends at whatdidyoueat.

This is a warm, protein-rich and spicy comfort food perfect for winter. It isn't that hard to make either, though I think mine came out a little too liquidy. But hey, it's a soup. Garnished with fresh avocado slices and combined with warmed soft tortillas and a red wine for a nice dinner. Plus, one recipe leaves quite a bit of leftover for the week, which probably isn't getting any warmer.



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moring walk and sea lion

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Was out for my morning walk along the ocean, armed as usual w/ a large cup of coffee and a cell phone. I often encounter a lot of cats in the residential blocks between my house and the ocean, but today I came a rather different critter: a young sea lion on one of the little beaches here. Nothing unusual about sea lions in this area (I often hear their barking from my house), but I never saw one in this beach before. Upon closer look, it seemed rather sick and ematiated and in quite a bit of distress – and the poor little guy seemed to be getting worse.

Fortunately, we have a local group, The Marine Mammal Center, that operates a 24-hour rescue hotline. I gave them a call, hopefully they can help.

As I sit out on the patio writing this post, I can hear more barking sea lions off in the distance.

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Another practical life skill…

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Well, so much for learning how to re-caulk my bathtub, but here's another skill that I might be able to use:



How to Make a Crop Circle

I don't even have a lawn, let alone a field, so finding a place to practice is the next step…

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