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Sunday 4 May 2008

BrumCon 07 - Gig Report

And then I was on. And incredibly nervous. The thing about hackers and geeks is that we don't tend to be polite. Even British hackers. It's an international identity, really. We're all zitty, perhaps having some trouble with puberty, awkward, weird and rude. I'm not a technically a hacker, really, since I just do audio and my interest in breaking things has mostly faded. But socially, yeah. So when I started to play, some people were clearly not impressed and not hiding that.

The bass was way too boomy. My computer out was not going through an EQ, so I couldn't turn up the treble. A bloke in the front row got out a newspaper. The sampled voice was way too low in the mix. The first piece runs on a timer. I wanted it to end, but it goes for at least 5 minutes. I tried to add in as much variation as possible, with the limited controls I gave myself. It's a poppy tune, without really any dynamic variation. I felt like I was crashing and burning. Finally, after an eternity, it ended.

Immediately there were questions, "were you controlling that with a joystick?" "were those sounds generated live?" "could you plug in a projector so we can see what you're doing?" Wow. So half the people were interested. Some number of them were actually fascinated. And half the people hated it. Wow. This was the most mixed group I've ever played in front of.

I went on to do my live sampling, this time with the projector plugged in. I'd gotten it finally working very late the night before after numerous problems, most of which were extra annoying because the failures happened silently ARG! That should never happen! If something goes wrong, it needs to alert you! Anyway, they saw my screen projected, complete with the many curse words that had worked their way into my source code over the previous 48 hours. The debug window regularly told me to go fuck myself. There was giggling.

Normally, when I'm using a controller, I have it post notes reminding me which button does what. I didn't do that here. Nor did I regularly post which samples were playing. This combination was not so good, since I completely forgot what button did what. It's clear now that I had them all wrong anyway. I need to be able to use the major functions in the controller with one hand, preferably, my right hand (unless I'm playing tuba). It kind of didn't matter, because the projector changed my screen resolution such that I wouldn't have been able to see my notes anyway.

So the set was fairly confusing and stressful. About half the people in the room left. I still feel ok about it, though. I made some music and possibly some connections.

Some of the local FOSS types are trying to get a free culture group together. I would really like to teach a class in SC. It would be super cool to have an SC users group where people could do demos of their projects or how to do things, so people could get help from each other. We could all build SC cluster computers. It would be teh awesome. Beginner instruction at 7. Regular group at 8. That sort of thing.

Anyway, I have a mental list of fixes for the software. Also, I wonder if I could sort of glue a wiimote to the bottom of the controller. I like the dual sticks and all the buttons, but it would be nice to have positional data too.


This is apparently coming across much more negatively than I intended. So I've published a clarification. In short: I would do it again, no question.


Polly Springhorn said...

You've probably already told us this, but why is it BrumCon 07 when it is 2008?

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

It's month 17 of 2007? They're living in the past? Things were better in 07?

It was delayed a few months.

Bigm000 said...

Dude, I did enjoy your set, though it is true I went to my hotel room to get my laptop half way through. Some of the people from the back of the room moved to the front to get a better look. I think it might have been better if Brumcon wasn't in that tiny room. Right people, wrong venue maybe ?

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

Hey, thanks.

I get stage fright, so I always think things are going terribly wrong even if they're not.

I like playing in weird venues, though. I'd rather play in a pub or somebody's house or a gallery with bad acoustics than a concert hall. Concert halls seem so authoritarian.

Anyway, I learned that I need to add some EQ to my program or to get a proper 4 channel mixing board. And also that dropping things down to 8 bit sound goes over well with geeks.

Anonymous said...

Hi mate,

Just so you know, I thought the set was good as background music. But like with anything musical based, people can't sit there and listen to music whilst in a crowd. The urge is there to talk lol. So maybe next time, do a step-by-step talk through of how your doing it, how it works, something to really grab their attention. Thats only my advice tho :)

Cal Leeming / Foxwhisper

TRH; "For we are the soldiers who dwell within the shadows"

Anonymous said...

Cal here again, lol just read your comments on my talk.. Hrm, not being funny or anything mate, but I don't come across as self-rightous at all.. Only reason i even mentioned my background was because I was adviced to be open.. For some strange reason, the communtity seems to have a real big problems with me because I'm an ex carder.. Maybe you should have taken time to talk with me, get to know the real me maybe.. Who knows :) Anyways, good presentation.

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

Hey Cal,

Maybe I spoke too negatively. You really convinced me that being a carder was your best option when you were a kid. And it is unfair that your name got published in the paper and is findable via google.

I think there's a large moral difference between stealing from people and stealing from companies. In fact, I'm in favor of stealing from corporations, since they steal from us. But companies don't see that, alas and you did get kind of greedy by the end. I suspect that potential employers are concerned about your apparent lack of contrition. But really, I don't know since I don't understand British culture at all.

Indeed, it's too bad you're in England, because companies in Silicon Valley would totally want to hire you. My boss at Netscrape was the inventor of the computer virus.

Anyway, speaking about such things in front of a group is really stressful, so I'm sure you're different in person.

Anonymous said...

Hi Les,

Well, I was actually speaking on behalf of other hacking who were in similar situations. As it stands, I don't find it too difficult to find work, infact my background helps me to a certain extent!

The main point I was trying to make, was that companies are scared of anyone who uses their abilities to a malicious extent. But they don't look into why they did it. The assumption is that, if someone has a criminal record, they are criminally minded, but it is often not the case, at least, in the world of hackers!

But yeah, the presentation was completely unplanned, and everything I said was off the top of my head, no notes or anything.. So the direction of the presentation was steered in whatever direction my mind was wandering in. It's always proved to be a good technique, however in this case, I think I came across as being trying to justify what I was doing, which was completely not what I wanted to achieve.

But either way, I'm glad you voiced your oppinion, because it shows you were paying attention to everything I said! :) Plus, it made me realise that, it's now time to put my past completely behind me, and focus on building my reputation within the industry, without relying on my negative background to prove my competence etc.

Cal Leeming
TRH; "For we are the soldiers who dwell within the shadows"

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