Archive for

November, 2011


Jarre and experimental instruments

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Enjoying a concert by Jean Michel Jarre recently, I got musing over his many innovative and experimental ways of controlling the music. Including signature instruments like the laser harp, theremin, but also more conventional boxes, like the Minimoog and various Moog synthesisers, the ARP 2600, the Moog Liberation keytar synthesizer, Korg Mini Pops, and Roland HPD-15 Handsonic Percussion Controller, an iPad, and much more.

For even more experimental instruments, see the Elixir and Home Made Labor acts. They make they own instruments, sample it, tweak it, and create ambient sound-scapes. At a live performance a few years ago, they would mould and shape the sound as they went along, slowly adding complexity ad-hoc.  Here’s a video where they go into a bit of detail.

Finally, while digging up some of this, I came across to other Zurich based projects: domizil, and ICST. I don’t know much about either, but domizil has a few CDs out. Might be worth looking into.

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Cool Linux games on Fedora

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Linux might not be famous for its games, however there are still plenty around. You will not find the latest Call of Duty, though. Rather, there is a long list of classics and small and fun games. From the Scumm based offerings from Revolution, to remakes of classics like Freeciv, LinCity, and Ultimates Stunts.

Fedora offers a dedicated “spin” installation for games, which offers more than hundred small and big games. Below is a random pick of a few favourites, along with their RPM package names.

As far as I understand, many of them are OpenGL based, or require a properly configured graphics card to run.

  • Beneath a Steel Sky – beneath-a-steel-sky-cd
  • Lure of the Temptress – lure
  • Flight of the Amazon Queen – flight-of-the-amazon-queen-cd
  • Freeciv – freeciv
  • Glaxium – glaxium
  • Mania Drive – maniadrive
  • Ultimates Stunts – ultimatestunts
  • Tremulous – tremulous
  • Abuse – abuse
  • LinCity – lincity-ng

And to install them all!

yum install beneath-a-steel-sky-cd lure flight-of-the-amazon-queen-cd freeciv glaxium maniadrive ultimatestunts tremulous abuse lincity-ng

Fedora 16 Released

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Fedora 16 was released today. There are a number of changes, including “GRUB 2 replaces legacy GRUB, HAL is gone and replaced by udisks, upower, and libudev, migration from SysV init to native Systemd continues”. Furthermore, Java 7 is finally being previewed, while Java 6 is still the default.

Download your copy now, a special “spin“, or share over Bittorrent.

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RF Communication on 433.92 MHz


I recently got a Sparkfun order on my door, so it’s time to play. In the box was a RF Link Transmitter, and Receiver. They are sold as 434 MHz radio wireless links. Others talk about 433 MHz. To be precise, it’s 433.92 MHz. That matters, because if you search for that number, you will find the so called home automation systems using that frequency, including X10, Everflourish, and many others. My plan then, is to build something similar to the TellStick from TellDus, which control these devices from my computer. Connect that up to an Android app, and I could control my lights and other appliances from any mobile phone.

First things first, though. Hooking up the bits was easy, following these two similar tutorials. Using the VirtualWire Arduino library v1.5 (1.6 released at the time of writing) by Mike McCauley (download version 1.5) transmitting data was a breeze. The library includes example code for transmitter and receiver, simply upload and go. Note that the transmitter data should be connected to pin 12 on the Arudino, and the receiver on pin 11 on the other. Data was received loud and clear, without errors. Mike’s library is well written, and covers several important aspects of RF communication, including a dedicated protocol, CRC handling, robust encoding over the air, baud rate, and to top it off, an easy to use API.

Now, of course when using my Everflourish nothing happened. Which was a good sign; it did not interfere with the Virtual Wire transmission. That remote is using a different protocol to talk to the light switches. Luckily, it has already been reversed engineered and the source code is available from TellDus. It will probably take some time to get this working. Meanwhile, some pictures.