I’ve been a successful participant in National Novel Writing Month three out of the past eight years. One thing each of those years had in common was a panicked realization that I hadn’t written or produced anything of value for most of that previous year. All it takes, really, is an aggressive and firm deadline and a well-defined deliverable.

But fiction isn’t what I want to do right now. Hasn’t been for a while. Also, since when did any NaNo project turn out a quality result?

What I want to do, and what I haven’t been doing, is making games. Unfortunately, building up a “promising” playable prototype hasn’t been sufficient to hold my interest when there are so many other fun things going on.

I moved into a new apartment three months ago and my whiteboards have barely changed at all since then. My printer is still sitting in my bedroom closet. My paper cutter is languishing desperately in a drawer with my notebooks, index cards, and other prototyping supplies. To be fair, my mother died about six weeks ago. And the weeks leading up to her passing were quite full.

But, every time I look at any of this stuff - this game-making stuff - I feel depressed. Like I’ve been neglecting a friend. Not just any friend, either, but a life-long friend who has always been there when things are bad or good, and now I’m realizing that I’ve been taking that friend for granted and wondering how I would feel if our roles were reversed. Anthropomorphizing a hobby? Maybe. But the feeling is real, and I have a real need to turn it around.

So what, now? A publicly-stated commitment. No more sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike at an opportune time.

This month, I will finish a game. It will be published and you will be able to buy it (probably at The Game Crafter). Yes, in a month. 

On or before November 30, I will take the last step before self-publishing: ordering myself a production copy of my game to review before release. I’ll share my progress here. There will be pics.

I hope you enjoy it even more than I do.

"Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really.

"How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty.

And yet it all seems limitless..."

- Paul Bowles

reading

You buy them books, and what do they do? They eat the paper!

listening

Forget about your seat -- it's the beat.

viewing

Television will make you dumb. C'mon and get stupid!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Renovation

Things have been a little wacky lately and I haven’t been particularly music- or writing-focused for about a week.  Part of this has to do with the fact that Back Alley Social is (apparently) still renovating their back room and I haven’t had a space in which to play out.  Another part of it is that my girlfriend bought her first house—a really beautiful, but beaten, Victorian-style home built in the year 1900—and I spent some time over there yesterday yanking out subflooring and inhaling dust.  Everywhere, renovation. 

Then there’s school, and let me tell you, being a 30-year-old dude who is working full-time and taking community college classes online can fill up significant chunks of life at a time.

So I guess you could say I’ve been preoccupied.  I was hoping to have a new mix up for you guys today, but Audition wasn’t cooperating over the weekend and I preferred to just play records to myself than mess with software issues. 

Right now, though, I’m ear-to-the-ground for new opportunities to play out.  If you know a bar or club in Austin who wants a DJ, take just a moment to assure them that I don’t drop R&B or top-40 pop, then send them to me!  Or send me to them, shoot, either way. 

Thanks for hanging with me, Internets.  Look forward to some good music and some new fiction in coming weeks.

posted on 08/10 • blog • (5737) commentspermalink

Monday, August 03, 2009

Using Serato with Adobe Audition

I love Adobe Audition for reasons most people don’t understand unless they’re CoolEdit users from way back.  I basically only use the thing to record mixed DJ sets to MP3 since it includes a few features that make it relatively easy to normalize a waveform and reduce vinyl hiss/system hum noise.

Since I made the transition to Serato, I’ve been looking forward to recording a new set with a mixture of joy and dread.  Previously, I only had to worry about system overhead for one application (Audition) and USB controller bandwidth for one device (my Behringer UCA-202 audio interface).  Add Serato to that, and what additional complications could arise, I wondered?

Not much!  Turns out, all of the above is quite well-handled by a newish Dell Studio laptop…running Vista, even!  Until, that is, I started recording.

I tried a test, got the record playing, armed a track, and started recording.  I switched back to Serato to load another track, checked Audition, and found that it had stopped recording!  What?

Problem:

Adobe Audition 3 stops recording when minimized or when a different window takes focus.

Fortunately, there is a simple…

Solution:

  • Click Edit -> Audio Hardware Setup
  • Uncheck the box labeled “Release ASIO Driver in Background”

Yep, it’s just that simple.  Like an idiot, I overlooked this checkbox about a dozen times before I found this solution on the Hydrogen Audio forums.  Thanks, folks!

posted on 08/03 • blog • (153) commentspermalink

Monday, July 27, 2009

How not to promote a DJ night

The second my monthly-ish gig began, it got canceled for two weekends in a row.  Apparently, the back room at Back Alley is under construction, and nobody notified the back room bartender until he showed up last night at 9 o’clock.  Therefore, nobody notified Handsome Cam until he loaded his car with gear.

So I got the call, Cam all gritting his teeth like, “Hmm guess I’ll just…unpack…my car…now.” 

This is unfortunate, because just last week the three of us got together a little bit and decided to start promoting the Sunday night jams up in that piece.  It really has a lot of potential.  It’s comfy, there’s a dance floor and there’s seating.  There are anywhere from 10 to 30 people there at any given time on a weeknight, and in Austin’s warehouse district, that constitutes a party.  We have no restrictions about the music we play (the only limitation is “no Ting Tings!”).  In short, the DJs and bartender can make it whatever we want. 

It’s beautiful.  It’s everything an old schooler getting back in the game could want.

But now I have told all my friends it’s fun times, and Cam has told his friends to check it out, and Skip (bartender) has told his friends that it’s like way awesome, and there are renovations underway, and we won’t be back in the booth for two weeks.  This creates a situation.  At this point, anyone showing up on a Sunday is going to get a clear message: “Nothing ever goes on at Back Alley Social on Sundays.” 

Hopefully in a couple of weeks this post will be followed up with one titled “How to promote your DJ night out of a hole!”  Near to that time, we’ll be coming at you in 3D with a snazzy flyer and a very, very generous drink special.

posted on 07/27 • blog • (3108) commentspermalink

Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekly Gig Like Woah

Last Sunday, I spent some time talking with the bartender at Back Alley Social about promoting the Sunday night thing.  After some discussion, we decided to call it TGIS (Thank Goodness It’s Sunday)!  Sunday is the new Friday, after all, especially for the Sunday night crowd at this spot which is made up mostly of service industry folks grabbing a couple of quick drinks on their way home from work.

DJ Handsome Cam and I have been granted a way generous drink special and permission to promote the night in any manner we see fit.  I’ll be back in the booth night after tomorrow, we’ll take a week off, and then we’ll be back weekly. 

So what started as, “Hmm, I’d kind of like to play out once a month or so” has turned into a weekly gig for me.  Nice.  More news as it breaks!

posted on 07/24 • blog • (287) commentspermalink

Monday, July 20, 2009

Serato Scratch Live and Windows Vista, Not Exactly Nature’s Best Friends

Hello, Internets.  Let me tell you a sad story about how installing unsupported drivers for new audio hardware can entirely jack up your Vista machine. 

When I bought Serato second-hand from a dude on Craigslist, I was advised to just install the software that came in the box and update it afterward, so that’s what I did.  Yeah, I know, I’m a jackass.  I even do application support for a living and should totally know better.  Ordinarily, I toss whatever driver CD and go straight to the manufacturer’s website for even little things like USB wireless adapters.  But the guy, he said…

So I followed the advice I was given.  To his credit, the seller didn’t know I was running Vista (or he may have offered to let me out of the deal and find another buyer). 

Serato installed fine, the driver installed fine.  It started fine.  I loaded a couple of tracks and played around with the control records, nice.  Then I closed the program.

Blue screen. 

Restart.  Start the program, play around, close the program, unplug the device.

Blue screen.

more...

posted on 07/20 • blogpermalink

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back to Back Alley Social this Sunday

If you are in Austin and you got nothing going on Sunday night, come out to Back Alley Social and listen to a couple of (if I am allowed to say so) pretty damned decent DJs spin their tunes.  Oh, I know what you’re saying.  “I partied all weekend long, and now I have to get into a crowded, stuffy club on a worknight?  Naaaaaaaaaaait! :(”

Stop crying, buddy.  For starters, you don’t have to do anything.  But for real, this place on a Sunday is a pretty laid-back time.  It’s not crowded, it’s not hot (unless you’re in the booth), there’s no line for booze, and the bartenders don’t cop any ‘tude.

Plus, me and DJ Handsome Cam will be bumping sweet tracks.  Can you imagine going down to the warehouse district on a Saturday with your posse and having the whole place to yourselves?  Well, that’s basically what it’s like!

Back Alley Social (formerly Whiskey Bar) at 5th and Lavaca.  Sunday.  10pm.  21+. FREE.

posted on 07/17 • blog • (5658) commentspermalink

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