Wednesday, 14 November 2007

More on Miro

So, you'll probably have noted my fondness for Miro if you've read any of my previous entries. Well, they've just released version 1.0, so I thought it'd be a good time to talk about it some more!

So, I've mentioned before that Miro is more than just a media player. The idea behind it is that it works on RSS feeds, so it allows you to keep up when content becomes available and then Miro will download things automatically (if you wish). This is great for things like video and audio podcasts, a lot of which can be accessed via the Miro guide which is built into the player.

Another place you can get feeds is, where you can get RSS feeds of available torrent downloads for various TV shows, which can then be downloaded using Miro's built-in torrent features!

I now have feeds set-up that tell me when a new episode of Heroes or Bones is available, so I never have to worry about remembering which is on which day or if the show is off air for a week (stuff I'd have to actively find out as they air on American TV).

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Stumbled upon part 2: Linux

So, continuing my series of collections of links that I've come across while wandering the web, here are a few pages providing useful info on various Linux-related topics. (I haven't included the pages I have of GIMP tutorials, they'll come later in an art-related post. This goes the same for anything non-strictly Linux-based)

Debian Package Of The Day

A great page that lists a different Debian package every day (well, in theory). It's intention is to introduce people to some of the lesser known packages that are available for Debian (and its derivatives). They run the gambit from useful to fanciful (Thoggen is a great DVD ripping tool, whereas cowsay is just silly) and from niche to usable by all (not everyone needs a command-line calculator, but a countdown timer is always useful). Check it out and at the very least you can be amused by ASCII cows saying things...


Reconstructor is a simple and easy way to create your own Ubuntu live CD without having to learn to programme and then compile it all. Say you have a friend who wants to try Linux/Ubuntu but doesn't want to install it, so you give him a live CD. Now, as great as it is, the Ubuntu live CD doesn't come with anything that exciting (I mean, can you get excited about Open Office?), so instead you put together a suite of applications on a Reconstructor CD that you think he'll like and Bob's your uncle!

Finally, a few links to help anyone who may be unfamiliar/unwilling to use the command line:

The one-page Linux manual - The most important commands you'll ever need to know on one simple page. - More in-depth tutorials on using the command line.

A day without X - One man's adventure spending a day not using a GUI.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

TED Talks

"TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader."

So, a while back, I introduced Miro (formerly Democracy player), which allows you to watch video podcasts as channels. When you first install Miro, it comes with a few subscriptions loaded by default. One of these is "TED talks", which is videos of various talks/performances given at the annual TED conference. They involve all kinds of things ranging from technology to language to music to psychology to pretty much anything you can think of that's on the cutting edge of creative and innovative thinking.

I highly recommend checking it out as there's some extremely interesting stuff on there. Even if none of the things cover your field of interest, I'm sure you'll find the talks interesting and some might even spark your interest about things you've never even thought about before (I do nothing to do with neuroscience but Vilayanur Ramachandran's talk was extremely interesting).

So, you can either get Miro or head to the TED talks site, here.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Death Of The Author

A small insight into the kind of thing I do on my course...


So, I installed Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on saturday and updated everything and installed everything I wanted (including all the Ubuntu Studio components) and so far, it's been good.

A couple of notes on certain things:
  • The new Ubuntu Studio theme is alright. I like the all black panels, as it means the blend in nicely to the background. I've changed the window decoration back to the old Feisty one so I can tell a fullscreen window from the panel.
  • GIMP 2.3 was a great improvement over 2.2 and I'm hoping 2.4 will be even better.
  • I still can't get my external monitor working the way I want it to, but there should be a new ATI driver out soon, which will hopefully fix that problem.
  • The new way XGL/Compiz is set up is great as you don't have to faff about with configuring Xorg and whatnot.
That's all for now, more to come as I discover various things.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Cheap Ubuntu PCs are now available in the UK!

And they're from Tesco!

eSys Intel Celeron PC Base Unit (£139.93)

eSys AMD 3600 PC Base Unit (189.93)

So, they're not the best systems out there and for some reason they're running 6.06, but they'll probably do just fine for surfing the net and writing documents, which is probably what someone buying a computer at this price would want to do (especially someone who'd buy a computer from Tesco).

Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen (Pro: This is a step towards the mainstream for Linux/Ubuntu, Con: These could be terrible computers, which would reflect badly on Ubuntu). Either way, that's a hell of a lot of clubcard points! :D

The next step is to get Dell to release Ubuntu PCs over here. Hopefully they'll do so by the time it becomes time for me to replace my current laptop... (or at least get myself a desktop to go with it)

Interesting links

So, I find interesting stuff on the internet all the time thanks to things like StumbleUpon (If you don't have it already, check it out, it's a great way to kill time on the internet and I've managed to stumble on many useful resources through it) and I thought it was about time I start sharing them with the world. I've got loads stored in my bookmarks, so I'll be going through them and putting them up here. I'll try and group them into categories somewhat. For now, here's just a couple of the latest ones I've come across.

Disposable web pages

So, you want a page for something that's coming up but you won't need the site after the event. You could make an event page on Facebook or a group or something, but why not something everyone can access, rather than just those on Facebook? Why not make a disposable web page? I'm sure there's even more possible uses, so check it out!

Open Design Community

"The Open Design Community (TODC) is a group of Open Source Website Designers providing hundreds of XHTML and CSS based free web design templates available for download.

The main goal of TODC is helping to make the internet a prettier place."

HTML Playground

Or, if you don't find a template you like, you can just use HTML and build it yourself. This is a great resource for learning as it tells you exactly what HTML tags do and gives you editable examples.

That's it for now, more to come soon!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

The times they are a-changin'

So, there's been some changes afoot and I figured it's time to tell you about them.

I no longer do music tech. I graduated in July with a 2:1. I have now started a Master's course in Creative Technologies. I'm still at DMU, but now I'm working in the Institute Of Creative Technologies. You can find some links to various IOCT-related things over on the right.

What this means, is that this blog is now going to broaden its scope to cover all kinds of creative technology, rather than just those that are music related. I'm not changing the name though, as that's too much hassle.

Also, for those that don't know, Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) is being released in a few days. I plan to once again do a complete reinstall, as that should fix various things I've broken in the course of using Feisty for the past six months. I shall obviously give a full report on that endeavour when it's all over.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Who needs TV when you've got Democracy?

So, what do you do when there's nothing on TV? Maybe you don't even have a TV... Introducing Democracy Player:

Democracy is basically a video player, but it can do a lot more than that. It comes with a built-in channel guide that lets you connect to sort of Internet TV channels (basically just Video podacasts). This means rather than having to go to each individual webpage and download each video, Democracy does everything for you. You can also set it up to automatically download new videos. This means you can leave Democracy running and whenever you fancy watching something you'll find a couple of new videos downloaded!

There's channels about pretty much everything, a couple of my favourites are Pulp Secret and Fresh ink (both comics related), Rock and Roll TV (interviews, features and video clips of various rock bands, some underground, some quite big), The Cooking Show (two drunk Australian guys cook random stuff), Ask a ninja and The Onion News Network. There's also a couple of music tech channels available in the form of Music Tools and The Audio Dojo.

Just head over to and check it out.

Just a note: In a little while Democracy will be changing its name to Miro.

Monday, 28 May 2007


So, seeing as the name mUbuntu is already taken by a couple of other projects, I decided a change was needed. I asked for some suggestions on the Ubuntu boards and none were forthcoming, so I just went with what I used for the address. So, welcome to the Ubuntu Music project! I also did a quick redesign so everything's not so squished up and I made some new artwork, so we've now got a proper logo and stuff. I created a couple of wallpapers based on the artwork, which I plan to use on any computers I use for his project. They can be found here and here.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Open source your music!

So, you're using all this open source software to make music and you're intrigued by the philosophy behind it. The idea of sharing it with anyone you can freely and legally. Well, why not do it with things other than software? That's where Creative Commons comes in.

I license all my work under a "Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License". This means people are allowed to freely share it with anyone they like and are allowed to create derivative works (remixes, etc) as long as they share everything under the same license. It also restricts commercial use of my work to be only with my permission. For full details, just check the link.

Think about the advantages and disadvantages yourself. In a world of mp3s and P2P sharing, if people want to share your music for free, they will, so why not let them do it legally? If people like it enough, they'll be willing to pay for it in other ways (paying for CD copies, coming to gigs, buying merchandise, etc). And it can never hurt to have as many people as possible know who you are, right?

Things like Creative Commons are what could bring about the downfall of traditional record companies and draconian copyright legislation.

Just a few thoughts. Something to think about. Have fun!


Wednesday, 23 May 2007

"Upgrade" to Ubuntu Studio.

So, seeing as it gets asked in the forums a lot, I thought I'd stick a guide here on how to "upgrade" from regular Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) to Ubuntu studio. This gives you the option of converting your regular Feisty install to Studio (meaning you don't lose any configuration, etc that you would doing a fresh install) or it's for if you don't have the option of burning the Studio .iso to DVD (either you don't have a DVD burner, you can't manage to download the .iso or you just don't want to waste a whole DVD on 900MB). So here goes.

First add the Ubuntu Studio repositories by running these two commands:

# sudo su -c 'echo deb feisty main >> /etc/apt/sources.list'
# wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update

Then use your preferred method (synaptic, apt-get, aptitude, etc) to install these packages:


If you just want to copy and paste, chuck this (yes, the whole damn line) into a command line:

# sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-desktop ubuntustudio-audio ubuntustudio-audio-plugins ubuntustudio-graphics ubuntustudio-video ubuntustudio-artwork ubuntustudio-gdm-theme ubuntustudio-icon-theme ubuntustudio-look ubuntustudio-session-splashes ubuntustudio-sounds ubuntustudio-screensaver ubuntustudio-theme ubuntustudio-wallpapers usplash-theme-ubuntustudio wired

Or if you just want audio stuff (no themes, etc):

# sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-desktop ubuntustudio-audio ubuntustudio-audio-plugins wired

Though it would really be a hell of a lot simpler just to fire up Synaptic and do a search for "ubuntustudio" and then "wired".

This is adapted from ep2011's post in this thread.

I also recommend checking out LMMS, it's a programme similar to Fruity Loops and is pretty simple to use and can yield some great results. It's not in Ubuntu's simplified "add/remove programmes" app, you have to either get it via synaptic or do a "sudo apt-get install lmms" (or aptitude or whatever). Also, when it installs, you won't get a menu entry made for you. You'll have to right click on your "Applications" menu and hit "edit menus" and add a new launcher there (this is assuming you're running GNOME, which you probably will be if you're running Ubuntu Studio. If you use KDE, I'm sure you know how to edit the menus. If not, ask on the forums). A graphic you can use for the menu icon can be found here.


Thursday, 17 May 2007

A learning experience

So, on tuesday the mUbuntu project took its first few tentative steps and I introduced some Leicester college students to the world of OSS and Linux. All seemed to go well, until we sent them off for lunch and they never returned. Not so much of a problem for me as my part of the day had finished, but a major problem for Martin, who was planning on teaching them about Tracker software in the afternoon.

All in all, it's been a learning experience. I've learnt:

  • Macs have an odd bug which means that if they're not connected to the internet while you install the OS, they'll decide it's 1904 and Linux doesn't like that...
  • I have no clue how to shutdown a mac running OS 9
  • As simple as it looks, ZynSubAddFX will slow an iMac down quite easily
  • As impressive as Linux can be, it's hard to impress with it quickly other than playing with Beryl and going "look at teh cube!!!11"
  • Don't let unsupervised college students go for lunch when what you're teaching them isn't mandatory...
Oh well, Live and learn!

In other news, despite my original post about not wanting to switch to Ubuntu studio just yet, I have switched! I discovered I could "upgrade" to it without losing anything, so I did. It's pretty damn awesome, even if I can't use XGL with the low-latency kernel. Even if you don't fancy using it, I highly recommend installing the theme as it's beautiful. My former theme, while similar and also beautiful, suffered from some readability problems, so this is perfect ^_^

More soon!


Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Open source + windows

While this project mainly focuses on open source software, and therefore Linux, some people will still be using Windows. So, I thought I'd make a quick post with some links to music tech applications that can be run on windows along with quick descriptions taken from their Sourceforge pages. Stuff in bold are the ones I recommend.

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files, cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together, change the speed or pitch of a recording, and more!

Psycle is a Music tracker (like FastTracker 2 or Impulse Tracker) combined with plugin modularity. It supports its own plugin API, the VST2 plugin standard, and a tracker style sampler playback.

VioLet Composer
A cross-platform modular multispace desktop music composer. Features realtime wavelet processing, flexible arrangement, extensible sample types, runtime plugin development, ASIO support, out-of-order PCM processing, autosaving and much, much more.

Modplug is a 'Win32' X86 based audio application used to produce music. The application was initially a private project developed by Olivier Lapicque and is a popular 'tracker' used by many musicians.

Frinika is a free, complete music workstation software for Linux, Windows, Mac OSX Tiger and other operating systems running Java 1.5 (J2SE5.0). It features sequencer, soft-synths, realtime effects and audio recording.

An audio production & mixing tool, featuring a - Sequencer, Beat Box, Wave Recording, Frequency Modulation, DJ Scratch interface, MP3 and sampler playback (the ability to assign any sample to any key) - For Windows, written in C# .Net 2.0 with DirectX.

Mixere is a standalone Windows application for mixing audio files. It has a spreadsheet-like interface that's ideal for live performance, and especially live sound collage. Imagine unlimited racks full of CD players, all connected to an automated mixer.

ZynAddSubFX is a powerful realtime, multi-timbral software synthesizer for Linux and Windows. It is microtonal, and the instruments made by it sounds like those from professional keyboards. The program has effects like Reverb, Echo, Chorus, Phaser...

gAlan is an audio-processing tool (both on-line and off-line) for X windows and Win32. It allows you to build synthesisers, effects chains, mixers, sequencers, drum-machines etc. etc. in a modular fashion.

For more, just have a browse through the various projects over at Sourceforge.


Monday, 14 May 2007

Ubuntu Studio

So, I had a check today and it seems that Ubuntu Studio is now available! I haven't tried it, but it looks pretty damn cool. Don't think I'll bother installing it till it's time for the next Ubuntu upgrade (7.10), I've spent too much time messing about getting stuff working already :-P

If you fancy checking it out, there's a link over on the right to the home page.


Thursday, 10 May 2007

A couple of articles

So, I thought I'd post a few interesting Linux/recording articles.

Let's start off with what got me to try Linux in the first place:

What's so bad about Microsoft?
What alternatives are there to Microsoft?

Then there's this article about using a solely open source set-up in a recording studio:

Using Linux for recording and mastering

Finally an article by Keyboard magazine talking about Linux as a musician's OS and various music-orientated distros:

Linux: It's not just for computer geeks anymore
Linux as a musician's OS? (Slashdot thread)

The first event of the mUbuntu project is taking place this Wednesday. I'm gonna be installing Ubuntu 7.04 on some old iMacs borrowed from DMU and introducing some BTEC Leicester college students to the wonders of Linux. A report and pictures, etc. will follow soon. Wish me luck!


Thursday, 12 April 2007

First post

So, this is the homepage of my mUbuntu project, which is just all about introducing people who do music tech to the joys of open source software through things like talks and workshops and whatnot.

This is gonna serve as a catalogue of what I do with the project and also as a place for me to post useful info that I wish to pass on to anyone who's interested.

I'll update some more later.