Video for the track "Kempten"

This is a concept video for the track “Kempten”, from the taking-longer-than-expected release from Neurogami, Maximum R&D.

One the one hand there’s not much too it; a series of small videos appears within the larger frame, twelve in all. Each of these is a complete month. The come in at set intervals, play through the month, then vanish. It’s set up such that at the end of the song all that is left is December.

What’s striking is the untended interplay of the changing light and colors of the different months. It’s a minimalist approach that well suits the music.

At some point there will be a write-up of how the whole thing was made.

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Morgen, a new Neurogami track

Hear more at

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Tricking the Flora to do HID MIDI

A little over a year ago I ordered an Arduino Flora board from Adafruit. The board had recently been released and as a fan of wearable computing I wanted to play around with one. It looked very much like the existing Lilypad board but with a few extra touches.

For one, it had a built-in slot for attaching a battery. It also had a built-in mini-B USB connector. Best of all, it was described as being able to HID USB, including HID MIDI.

If you looked at that Flora product page you might notice that there is no mention of MIDI. Yeah, that part is gone. This is a fairly recent change. That same claim used to be on the getting started page but is now gone. But if you Google about you can find promo blurbs on other sites that copied from the early Adafruit promotional content, and they refer to HID MIDI. (For example. Also Google cache)

But why the change? And why did I just notice? For all sorts of reasons I never got around to actually working with my Flora until about a week ago. I assume I’ve been distracted by yet newer and shinier toys. Or it got buried in the pile of “get to” boxes. In any event I had the board out and was trying a few things and recalled that it was supposed to do HID MIDI so I set off to have the Flora drive some MIDI programs.

I went looking for an example but could find nothing.

If you’ve used a Teensy board you might hope that MIDI with the Flora would be as simple. But no. And the reason is because the Flora, contrary to the original claims, does not actually do HID MIDI. At least not as-is out-of-the-box.

But it is (sort of) possible with a bit of hackery.

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New Renoise tool for entering raw MIDI values

While working on the Neurogami article about using Renoise to script Processing sketches via MIDI I found it somewhat tedious and error-prone to have enter specific MIDI values using the computer keyboard.

For example, a (legacy) Launchpad was used because the pad layout felt more intutive for certain commands. I wanted some of the effects to be added to the Renoise track. But where’s MIDI value 8 on the computer keyboard? Where is it on a standard MIDI keyboard?

I would have liked to just typed in “8” in the Renoise note editor but only text values (e.g. “F-3”) are allowed.

I first wrote a Ruby script to generate a chart showing the octaves and keys that map to specific note values and used the Renoise keyboard shortcuts to shift octaves. It worked OK but it’s still a bit tedious.

I was curious how hard it would be to write a custom Renoise tool to do this. Turns out, not hard at all.

The tools called “Raw MIDI” and it’s up on the Neurogami GitHub Renoise-stuff repo.

There are two things I wanted to add but could not; these may not be possible. The first was to set the input focus to the text field when the tool is opened. The other was to insert the note value when you hit the “Enter” key.

You have to manually click on the text field before entering the value. If you hit “Enter” twice the first one moves the focus off the text field and onto the “Insert” button, and the second will trigger the “Insert” button which enters the note.

It should then stay open unless you hit the “Close” button or the “Esc” key.

You do not have to turn on editing in order to use this. This will insert or change note values whether you’ve set the song to “edit” or not.

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Scripting Processing with MIDI

Neurogami has posted an article up on Instructables: Scripting Processing with MIDI.

It walks you through creating a Processing sketch that listens for MIDI messages and alters behavior based on note value and message source.

You can see a video of the results used for the track A Temporary Lattice .

Source code and article text, plus the Renoise track used for the song, is up on Github.

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New track and video from Neurogami

Another preview track for the upcoming Maximum R&D from Neurogami has been released.

This one is called (for now, at least) “A Temporary Lattice”.

There’s a video as well:

An extended write-up describing the software used to create the video is in the works. Basically it’s Processing synced via MIDI, but it’s really quite clever.

See all of the current tracks on Neurogami’s Bandcamp page.

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Getting configgy with Processing

If you spend enough time writing Processing sketches you eventually want a way to store and load configuration data.

Chances are good that you've rolled your own. (Chances are also good that if you were familiar with the Java Properties class you would never consider it even though you basically get that "for free" since Processing is Java.)

I've rolled my own. Two, actually. The first read a text file and looked for name: value lines, populating a HashMap. It had some accessor methods (e.g. getIntValue) to handle casting for you. It worked good enough.

Recently, while working on some a Neurogami MIDI project, I wanted a way to track a list of MIDI devices. My config code was no good for this. I thought about hacking in some way to define a list in a single line of text but it felt icky.

I thought that using YAML or JSON would be a better fit for structured text and lo! Processing supports JSON out of the box.

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Rawr 1.7.0 released

A new version of rawr has been released.

As always, the gem is hosted on Neurogami.

To install as a gem:

gem i --source= rawr

What’s changed is how rawr assembles the packaged application jar. This may break existing apps.

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Some HackPHX 2014 images

Taken with my phone while wandering around.

The first three are from my own team, Team 2.

See all the repos here

Sorry, no fancy lightbox thing today. I sort of tossed this page together just to get it done.

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Using a gem with Rawr

Rawr is an application-packaging tool for JRuby. It grew out of a commercial product where JRuby was used with Monkeybars to provide a desktop application.

Rawr takes all of an application’s files and packages them up into an executable jar. The end result includes a copy of jruby-complete.jar such that, so long as you have Java installed, you can run this jar as you would any other executable jar file.

It’s very slick.

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