The Norwegian Academy of Music launched their new web page and logo today. As part of the visual profile, they wanted to create a dynamic logo, continuously reflecting the activities at the school. I was asked to contribute to making this new dynamic logo dynamic, and we ended up basing the system on analysis of the sound of the school.
The system I have developed is based on microphones in the canteen and the two concert halls. The audio signals from the microphones are fed to an analysis program, which in turn sends three global and perceptual paramaters (sound level, sharpness, and noisiness) to the logo generator running at the web server. The logo generator interprets the three sound parameters, and modifies the shapes, sizes and colours of the graphical elements in the logo.
To the right is a screenshot of how the logo looks on the web page, and below are a couple of examples of different shapes that appear.
The analysis program has been developed in the graphical programming environment Max, using the analyzer~ external for the audio analysis, and some components from the Jamoma library. The most challenging part was to create a solid TCP-connection to the web server, and to secure that the hardware and software can run for many years without interruption. The interface for the application is shown below.
It has been a fun project to work on, particularly as it has required to develop something that will run for much, much longer than anything else I have created previously.
Last year I decided to use plain text files (TXT) as the main file type for all my computer text input. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most important one was all the problems experienced when trying to open other types of text-based files (RTF, DOC, etc.) on various iOS and Android devices that I use daily. Another reason is to become independent of specific software solutions, forcing you to use a specific software for something as basic as writing text on your computer or device. Along the way I decided to shift my note-taking from MacJournal to nvALT. The best thing about nvALT is that it can unobtrusively monitor a folder of text files, and it allows for quickly searching in old files and write new ones. Since all the files are just plain text files stored in a regular folder (and sync’ed to the cloud), I can of course also use any text editor to view and write the files.
The problem was how to get all my previous notes into my new “system”. I have used a number of different note taking software over the years (e.g. Journler, DevonThink and Evernote). Fortunately, I have been quite careful about exporting all the notes regularly, mainly as RTF files. Having a few thousand such files (and some others), I looked for a solution to quickly convert them to plain text files. There are more complex solutions for converting text files to various formats (e.g. Pandoc), but I found the easiest solution was to use the OSX command line utility textutil. This little line will convert all RTF files in a folder to TXT files:
find . -name \*.rtf -print0 | xargs -0 textutil -convert txt
It will (of course) remove any formatting, but it will preserve all the (text) content nicely.
MultiControl is by far the most popular software application I have created, as can be seen in the web traffic here on my site, and also on the download site at the University of Oslo where the app resides. This is a tiny application that passes on data from a human interface device (mouse, game controller) through either OSC or MIDI. When I first created it back in 2004, there were not so many other options. Today, however, users would typically find more features in an application like Osculator or Steim’s Junxion. Still, MultiControl is downloaded hundreds of times per month, which should indicate that some people think it is interesting and useful.
Unfortunately, I do not have much time for development these days, so I will probably never get around to implement all the cool and exciting features I once wished for in MultiControl. But since it is my most popular application, I feel bad about also abandoning the whole thing. So I will try to keep it updated for the latest operating systems.
I just made a fresh build of the application using the latest version of Max. It works fine here on my Mountain Lion system, and I would imagine that it should also work on Lion (but perhaps not previous versions). Since I have received some feedback about problems with opening zip-files, I have now created a dmg-file instead. To avoid problems with broken links in the future, I will just point to the folder in which the latest version can be found.
Have fun, and let me know if you experience any problems.
This is quite certainly the least advanced computer software I have made publicly available (see here for others), but it may still be useful for some: a small application that will ask for a filename and create a new blank text file with that filename prepended by today’s date:
If you are interested in trying this out, here are the files:
Over the last years I have become more and more vary of the problems of complex file formats, and find myself using plain text files for most things, including to-do lists and note taking. I use nvALT for jotting down notes quickly, which will also create text files directly in my notes folder. However, often I find that it is useful to create text files in other locations as well, and instead of doing this manually with the mouse I now use my little application instead. Call me lazy, but it saves me some seconds and annoyance every time (especially figuring out today’s date each time…), and is a nice addition to the service “Add date” that I use all the time to add a file’s creation date to the filename, and which is very practical for organising, for example, all the files I get from students in chronological order. Yes, I know that it is possible to use Finder/Explorer to sort files based on their creation dates, but I am using enough servers and weird university systems to know that those creation dates are not trustworthy.
For those that are interested, here is a screenshot of the Automator workflow.
Sometimes the easiest way of sharing files is to just put them in a open web directory. I came across this very detailed blog post about how to change the looks of an apache directory listing by editing the .htaccess file.