Go, Do, Be.

Categories

12/05/2018  — 

#MyMusical2018 Part 3: Open mics and other gigs

If you landed on this article I'd like you to know that I've been writing about some of the musical action that I've been involved with in 2018. The last post was about the long-running Song-A-Day project. Today, I'm sweeping a bunch of extra-curricular performances together in a post called...

#MyMusical2018 Part 3: Open mics and other gigs

While this wasn't a big or deliberate goal for the year, I did step into a few open mic situations that were a blast. My go-to is right around the corner from my house at the Missouri Lounge -- one of Berkeley's oldest and best-attended open mics. I've had a few chances to play here with Seth Freeman when he's in town. Seth & I have played a few Little John songs at the Missouri. We played separate songs at The Octopus Literary Salon. The Monday we visited the Octopus was packed with comedians who put on a pretty good show.

I also had a chance to play a fun Halloween show with some radical musicians. We brought the first two Danzig albums to life (or possibly to death) in all their heavy-riffy glory as GIZNAD. Would I wear a wig onstage again? Yes. Would I play this stuff well outside the Halloween season? Hell yes.

Oh hey- there's a youtube playlist containing a few of these things!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next post in the #MyMusical2018 series: Doodles to hear something (old but) new.

03/29/2009  — 

Twitter-Based Blog Syndication Flowchart

Following on the microsyndication theme I mentioned earlier, I decided to map out the events that take place when I put a new post onto this blog.

Here are the basics:

  1. I publish an article on greacen.com. The article appears on the site as well as a (private) url of an RSS feed which...
  2. is polled regularly by feedburner.com which republishes the feed and gives me some basic analytics for how the feed is used and...
  3. is polled by twitterfeed.com. It reads the feed and gets twitter-friendly shorturls for each feed item and updates...
  4. twitter.com with each new article which...
  5. updates my status on facebook.com.

The nice part about this setup is that it's all automatic: the only action I take is posting my idea onto my site. The feeds take it the rest of the way.

Analytics are pretty crude at this point. Any clicks on the feedburner-based feed should offer some basic analytics. If I really wanted details, I think I'd need to generate a separate feed for each microsyndication destination if I wanted to measure twitter clickthroughs vs. facebook clickthroughs (though google analytics should offer a hint about the source of clicks to greacen.com)

Here's the Graphviz drawing of the flow I described above. digraph BlogPost {
size="5,6";
ratio = fill;
node [style="rounded,filled,bold" shape="box" fillcolor="skyblue"];

/* Set up specific shapes */
"RSS Aggregators" [style="rounded" shape="box3d"];
"URL Shortener" [style="" shape="invisible" label="URL Shortener"];
"Analytics" [style="" shape="invisible"];
"greacen.com" [label="greacen.com Publish blog article"];
"feedburner.com" [label="feedburner.com Analytics and scaling"];

/* Box in those 3rd party things */
subgraph cluster_c1 {"Analytics"; "URL Shortener";
label="Other Parties"; style= "dashed";}

/* Show and label relationships */
"greacen.com" -> "feedburner.com" [label="GET RSS" dir="back"];
"feedburner.com" -> "twitterfeed.com" [label="GET RSS" dir="back"];
"feedburner.com" -> "Analytics" [];
"twitterfeed.com" -> "URL Shortener" [label="GET URL" ];
"URL Shortener" -> "twitterfeed.com" [];
"twitterfeed.com" -> "twitter.com" [label="POST twitter api"];
"twitter.com" -> "facebook.com" [label="facebook/twitter bridge"];
"feedburner.com" -> "RSS Aggregators" [label="rss feed" color="darkorange"] ;
"twitter.com" -> "RSS Aggregators" [label="rss feed" color="darkorange"] ;
"facebook.com" -> "RSS Aggregators" [label="rss feed" color="darkorange"] ;
}

Here's what those instructions become with a click:

publishing flow

This is different from my surf report post. The surf report is the content, whereas with a blog post, my site holds the real content. The RSS feeds publish a pointer to the original content.

Make sense?

03/26/2009  — 

Twitter-Based Surf Report Flowchart

I've been mucking around with Twitter and Facebook lately. There are a few folks who have been using these services to post info about how the surf is. I don't live close to the beach (yet), so I like to see what's happening before I jump into the car and make the trip.

I sent a message from my phone this morning. Even though the surf was lame. The message was published all over the place (microsyndication). Here's how it worked:

  1. I emailed a photo to twitpic.com which...
  2. updates my status on Twitter which...
  3. the @StokeReport user follows. If my tweet contains "SMLM", stokereport will publish my tweet on stokereport.com (and even pull the image off twitpic it seems, nice!).
  4. also, http://greacen.com has that little widgety thing over there on the left. Your browser will pull the image from twitpic and put it onto this page.
  5. also, Twitter will pass my status update on to Facebook.com

Guess what? Most of these nodes along the way have their own RSS feeds for others (services or people) to slurp & read.

Thinking about this plinko-esque publishing flow is a little dizzying. I've been working on web site flows for a few weeks now. It's often helpful to map out a flow to see what's really going on. Graphviz is an open source tool for producing network diagrams and flow charts that I've been using for mapping high-level flows. Here's what a map looks like for the publishing flow I described earlier:

digraph TwitterSurf {
size="6,6";
ratio = fill;
node [style="rounded,filled,bold" shape="box" fillcolor="skyblue"];

/* Set up specific shapes */
Phone [style="rounded,filled" shape="oval" fillcolor="grey"];
"RSS Aggregators" [style="rounded" shape="box3d"];

/* relationships */
Phone -> "twitpic.com" [label="Email with attachment"];
"twitpic.com" -> "twitter.com" [label="twitter api"];
"twitter.com" -> "facebook.com" [label="facebook/twitter bridge"];
"twitter.com" -> "stokereport.com" [label="if post contains 'SMLM'" style="dotted"] ;
"twitpic.com" -> "greacen.com" [label="widget/embed" color="red"] ;
"twitter.com" -> "RSS Aggregators" [label="rss feed" color="darkorange"] ;
"facebook.com" -> "RSS Aggregators" [label="rss feed" color="darkorange"] ;
"stokereport.com" -> "RSS Aggregators" [label="rss feed" color="darkorange"] ;
}

If you ignore the []s, it looks like a terse version of our list up above. Here's the flowchart those instructions produce:

Surf Report Publishing Flow

Kinda neat, huh? I find the way this goes from text to sitemap really intriguing. This -> that; that -> next; other -> next; makes sense to me. Graphviz does a great job of putting this all together in an easy-to-digest graphic.

There are a few rails front ends to graphviz (demo) that might make a web tool for this possible. I could see this becoming a handy planning tool for our organization.

Questions:

  • Anyone ever use a tool like this for making sitemaps or high-level flows? What tools work well for modeling these interactions?
  • What other publishing tools are you using to propel your tweets? (where's my linkedin hook?)
  • Has anyone run into ownership issues with this plink-esque publishing?
  • Does this have a name? Let's call it microsyndication.
  • What's the best way to get metrics for this kind of publishing? Is there a way to measure in this distributed/microsyndicated system? How many people read my surf report?

Thanks for reading.

02/23/2009  — 

Song-A-Day Notes From The Studio

Seth and Derek (among others) asked for some details on how I recorded a few songs this year. I've been pretty happy with the guitar sounds overall. The big improvement from last year seems to be the mic. I'll tell you everything about what I do. Maybe it'll help you find that killer something.

This is my recipe for rock guitars:

Ingredients:

  • Guitar: Fender Lead II (1980) with a really kooky humbucker pickup (I think it's a Bill Lawrence, but possibly a dimebucker?) in the bridge position. Someone really took a lot of time modding this guitar before I bought it. This pickup is special though, haven't found many that sound like it.
  • Amp: ZVex Nano Amp. A .5 (!) watt tube head which should get most of the credit for the sound. It's really an amazing piece of gear that produces controlled overdriven mayhem at a reasonable volume. Zack, my wife, children, and neighbors thank you.
  • Cabinet: Closed-back Mesa 4x12 (with celestions, I think) (yes, the cab for the dual rectifier)
  • Mic: Pacific Pro Audio LD2ube Large Capsule Condenser (multipattern)
  • A->D: Aardvark Q10 a really handy piece of gear. I'm using its built-in preamps. Aardvark went out of business a few years back unfortunately. This thing is still going strong for me.
  • Multitracking: I have an old version of Nuendo 1.53 (the latest is 4) as my main multi-tracking application.
  • Several effects: Waves RCL is the main compressor I'll use. I set up some really simple, standard reverb as a sendd effect too.
  • 1 Dirty Secret Ingredient: That Evil Multiband thing that comes with Nuendo. This may be the thing that takes a decent sound from the guitar/amp/speaker and makes it really sing on a recording (perverting it and possibly ruining it at the same time).

For the basic "loud" sound here's what I'll do:

The Performance

Set the guitar to use the humbucker pickup only. Volume and tone wide open (11). Believe it or not, someone fitted my guitar with an XLR output. I don't use it, just the regular 1/4" jack.

Set the ZVEX amp to brighness: middle, thickness: normal. Volume knob is about 3/4s+. There's only 1 knob on this amp I get it into the distortion space, but not all the way up. The amp is relatively quiet, the sound is a little mid-rangey, but it sounds good in the room.

Mic the guitars pretty close. About 4-6 inches away from the cabinet's grill. I'm using a large cap condenser for this. I've been leaving the mic in the omni position lately. The sound is a little more open. That proximity effect wasn't doing anything to help the sound IMO.

At this volume, I trim the Aardvark's preamp to "6.5" (not sure if this is a db level or something specific to the Q10) so there's a strong signal and still a fair amount of headroom.

Play with heart and desire -- and fat fingers. I'm not a great guitarrist, but I think pick technique plays a small part here. I'm working toward my ideal guitar sound which is distorted, but clear, with lots of bright overtones. Most of my favorite punk albums had some combination of this. I've learned to get some of those overtones by sticking my finger onto the vibrating strings as I pick. Do you really want to know about this? Just ask and I'll ramble on and on about it...

I'll usually double the main part of the song, then add one more color track, often with a different distortion and pickup setting.

The Mix

2 main (heavy) guitars panned hard right/left. Usually with no EQ.

1 guitar up the middle, usually cleaner (distortion-wise). Might use a little EQ to fill a gap in the wall of sound. Posssibly with a bit more of the send- verb too.

Group all the guitars. Use light compression with the RCL on the group. Might shelf the bass a little (I'm monitoring with NS-10s and I've found that if I can hear the bass at all there will likely be a problem on other systems.). I'll usually add a touch of room verb as a send effect.

Here are the compressor specifics:

  • RCL's 'electro' setting
  • attack: 20.0
  • release: 20.0
  • threshold -11.9
  • ratio: 2.57
  • gain: 4.0

The overall mix is important too of course. The drum sounds are reasonably loud, but offer some space. The bass has a few EQ notches (where? I'll check) to carve out space. I haven't been too happy about the vocal sounds on the full-band songs this year, so no help in this dept.

Here's the Dirty Little Secret: Bus compression is the evil Multiband thing. Yeah, there it is. It's out. What are the settings here? Hard to tell what all these mean. I'm basically choosing the "FM" preset and trying to dial it back just a bit.

Actually, now that I look closely to a randomly picked mix, it looks like I'm just using the default 'FM Radio' setting for 'Trouble Sleeping'.

That's about it. Here's a guitar-only mix for Trouble Sleeping: http://gr eacen.com/media/greacenzone/20090222_guitar_mix.mp3

You can hear slight variations on this on a bunch of this year's songs:

  • Up In The Attic
  • Drive North
  • Even in Winter (I used the less-distorted guitars in the panned position on this one, reversed the model)
  • Master of the Mall
  • Wafflepalooza
  • Put Down That Bag Of Rocks
  • Bring it Back
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Istanbul
  • 2wo
Plus a few more that will likely come before we cross the finish line.

Go Listen!

01/17/2009  — 

Song-A-Day Shopping List

Just a few weeks left before we start the 2009 Song-A-Day festivities (a.k.a. 29 Songs). Looks like I really need to clean out the garage and the website before this gets going.

Maybe I can pick up a few things to help things along this year too. Here's a shopping list I jotted-down on the BART one night this week:

  • batteries! Mostly for the tuner, but I'll play around with different sounds a bit more this year.
  • strings for the acoustic guitar.
  • sm57: snare sounds have been lame. Maybe this'll help? Maybe properly tuning my snare will help more.
  • midi controller: I'd love to play with one of these.
  • Another samson mic to record in stereo (from the road).
  • a proper mic stand for the kick drum. I lost mine somewhere along the way.
  • A piano. I meant to get one at some point in '08, mostly for the girls. I used to play a little, would love to have one in the family.

What am I forgetting?

If you have any interest at all in joining the fray, please shoot me a note. As you can see this is a great excuse to go out and buy some gear. Your spouse will surely agree.

09/03/2008  — 

A day on Chrome

03/04/2008  — 

29 done...

02/28/2008  — 

Song-a-day almost done!

02/25/2008  — 

I can see the light!

02/19/2008  — 

Still playing catchup

02/14/2008  — 

More Lack of Engineering

02/13/2008  — 

Engineering... and lack of

01/23/2008  — 

The horror of the Hayward fault