Starting up my new project: MICRO

I am super excited about starting up my new project – MICRO – Human Bodily Micromotion in Music Perception and Interaction – these days. Here is a short trailer explaining the main points of the project:

Now I have also been able to recruit two great researchers to join me, postdoctoral researcher Victor Evaristo Gonzalez Sanchez and PhD fellow Agata Zelechowska. Together we will work on human micromotion, how music influences such micromotion, and how we can get towards microinteraction in digital musical instruments. Great fun!

This week we have already made some progress, both in terms of analysis and synthesis. A sneak peak below, more to come…

Remove standard bookmarks in Nautilus

Yet another note to self on how to fix things in Ubuntu after a fresh install, found at askubuntu, this time to remove the standard bookmarks in the Nautilus file browser. I use a different setup of folders, and don’t really need these unused bookmarks. I wish it could have been easier to just right-click and delete to remove them (like for your own bookmarks), but it turns out to be a bit more tricky.

The default bookmarks are actually built from ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs, and this file is rebuilt on login from /etc/xdg/user-dirs.defaults. So it is necessary to modify both of the files, which may most easily be done with:

nano ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

sudo nano /etc/xdg/user-dirs.defaults

In the nano editor you should comment out the ones that you don’t want.

And after a login the bookmarks are gone.

Move windows between screens on Ubuntu

As part of the fun of reinstalling an OS, you need to set up all the small things again (and you also get rid of all the small things you had set up and that you don’t need any longer…). This message is mainly a note to self about how to move windows between screens on Ubuntu with a key combination, found at stackexchange:

  1. Install CompizConfig Settings Manager:  sudo apt install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins-extra
  2. Run Compiz from the dash
  3. Click Window Management
  4. Enable the Put plug-in (select the check-box)
  5. Click on Put
  6. Configure the shortcut for Put to next Output (click enable). I like to use <super-less>, since that key combination is very convenient on a Norwegian keyboard
  7. Log out and back in to make changes take effect

Split PDF files easily using Ubuntu scripts

One of the fun parts of reinstalling an OS (yes, I think it is fun!), is to discover new software and new ways of doing things. As such, it works as a “digital shower”, getting rid of unnecessary stuff that has piled up.

Trying to also get rid of some physical mess, I am scanning some piles of paper documents. This leaves me with some large multi-page PDFs that I would like to split up easily. In the spirit of software carpentry I looked for a simple solution for splitting up a PDF file, and came across the command “burst” in the little terminal application pdftk. To use it on Ubuntu, you will first need to install it, using the terminal command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install pdftk

Then this one-liner is all that is necessary to split a PDF file into a series of individual PDFs:

pdftk your-file.pdf burst

For convenience, I also made it into a small Ubuntu script:

This script can run by right-clicking on a file in the file manager:

And the end-result is a series of individual PDF files:

And then you can of course also combine the files again, either all PDFs:

pdftk *.pdf cat output newfile.pdf

or only the files you like:

pdftk file1.pdf file2.pdf cat output newfile.pdf

Starting afresh

After four years as Head of Department (of Musicology at UiO), I am going back to my regular associate professor position in January. It has been a both challenging and rewarding period as HoD, during which I have learned a lot about managing people, managing budgets, understanding huge organizations, developing strategies, talking to all sorts of people at all levels in the system, and much more.

I am happy to hand over a Department in growth to the new HoD (Peter Edwards). We have implemented a new bachelor’s program, launched UiO’s first MOOC (Music Moves), and hired a number of new people, just to mention a few of the things I have worked on over the last years. I am also proud that we just got our new appointment plan approved before Christmas, aiming at hiring up to seven new professors within the next five years. Humanities departments are under a lot of pressure these days, so I am very grateful that we are in a position to expand in the coming years!

I have only been teaching sporadically while being HoD, so I am excited about getting back to running the course Interactive Music that I started up a while back. This is a so-called “practical-theoretical” course, aiming at giving students a holistic perspective on designing musical instruments and systems. I published a paper on the design of this course a few years ago (An action–sound approach to teaching interactive music), and have since gathered some more ideas that I want to test out when it comes to teaching students a combination of music cognition and technology focused around some concrete designs. I also hope that these ideas will turn into my next book project, if successful.

I am also excited about starting up ny new research project MICRO – Human Bodily Micromotion in Music Perception and Interaction, in which we will focus on how music influences us when at rest. Fortunately, the fourMs lab is really getting up to speed now, so we will really be able to study micromotion in great detail.

In getting ready for my new working life, I decided to wipe my main computer (a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2) yesterday. I have been running various versions of Ubuntu over the last years (Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu GNOME, and Linux Mint), but decided to go for the regular Ubuntu 16.10 this time around. I think Unity has matured quite a bit now, and works very well on the Yoga’s multitouch HiDPI display. This was my first complete reinstall since I got the laptop almost three years, and was definitely needed. I always test a lot of different software and settings, so the system had gotten clogged up by lots of weird stuff on top of each other. The new clean system definitely feels smooth and well-functioning. It feels like a digital and mental “shower”, getting ready for the new year!

Alexander Refsum Jensenius