“The Spaceship” 2.0

Update: See how myself and others have modified The Spaceship to meet our own needs.

Programming while sitting at a desk has always been problematic for me. I’ve never been able to maintain perfect, upright posture while sitting. I usually sit hunched forward, which is terrible on my back. If I recline, I want to dose off whenever I come across something challenging. When left my full time and started working from home last April, I decided to give a standing desk a try.

Problem is, manufactured standing desks are quite rare and ones large enough to accommodate my setup don’t exist. I wasn’t about to shell out thousands for a custom made one, so I did what any self-respective bootstrapper does and built my own. My Mom had a couple mid-century file cabinets in her basement weighing at least 200lb’s each. I knew I could trust my setup on top of those tanks, so I unscrewed the counter of my ikea desk and layed it across them. It was sturdy, but not high enough to rest my elbows on. Eight cinder blocks later, I was in business. Only problem was it looked like this:

The appearance of my workspace wouldn’t be such an issue if I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a roommate / girlfriend with refined visual taste. Upon first sight, she dubbed it “The Spaceship”. Kaitlin approved of my experiment temporarily, but immediately set a deadline a month out to build a better looking version. A month later, I was in love with my desk, but had no time to figure out how to make it easier on the eye.

A year passed. I knew there had to be a good looking homemade solution out there. I came across this attractive Ikea hack, but at 42″ it was half a foot shy of elbow rest height. Yesterday, Kaitlin and I ventured to Ikea with the intent of finding materials for “The Spaceship” 2.0. Upon first glance of EXPEDIT shelving unit (below), I knew there was hope of finding a support as sturdy as my tanks. Problem was no single unit in the EXPEDIT collection was elbow rest height.

Not to be defeated, I starting thinking of ways I could saw off half of the one of the four shelf cabinets (above). Fortunately, I consulted with a masterful Ikea employee named Rocky. He strongly advised against using a sawed off unit as hollow particle board loses its structural integrity when cut. Fortunately, Rocky was down to hack and talked me through some other ideas for combining EXPEDIT items. I followed his vision and am thrilled with how it turned out:

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My Ableton-clone

I love Ableton Live, but it’s never satisfied my needs as a dj. I was really excited when Max for Live came out as it promised easy extensibility for Live. However, still I found Max for Live and Live Control quite limiting, so I said to myself “fuck it, I’m building my own”.

Problem is, making dj software that works exactly the way I want requires a ton of effort. After going through all that effort, the resulting product is still likely to have limited appeal. So I contemplated ways to make a version that would have broader appeal. I decided the best way to do that is to take all effort out of DJ’ing for people who just want to hear their own music beatmatched.

It’s eventually going to be an iPhone app, but right now it’s a Mac OSX app to prove the concept. The audio engine is written in the parts of Apple’s CoreAudio framework that are also available on the iPhone, so that code should be reusable. The video below demonstrates the current state of this audio app through my Ableton-like clone on OSX:

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Top Tracks of 2010

Another awesome year of electronic music. So many great tracks. Many of them coming from my musical hero Maya Jane Coles (pictured). Here are my favorite tracks, categorized loosely by genre:

House

1. Maya Jane Coles – Love/Hate [Dogmatik]
2. Juan Sanchez – Indigo [Kling Klong]
3. Maya Jane Coles – Get Away [1trax]
4. Lee Curtiss – I Can Hear You Arthur [Supplement Facts]
5. Shonky – Le Velour [Real Tone]
6. Maya Jane Coles – No Sympathy [Elite Records]
7. Jamie Jones & Gadi Mizrahi – Nasty Things [Wolf + Lamb Black]
8. Til Von Sein – Sundowna (Dyed Soundorom & Shonky Remix) [Supplement Facts]
9. Beat Pharmacy – Pump (Bearweasel’s Extended Dub Mix) [Steadfast]
10. Makam – You Might Lose It (Kerri Chandler Dark Mix) [Sushitech Purple]
11. Ed Davenport – Take Heart (Bearweasel’s Lazy Dub Mix) [Figure SPC]
12. Jef K & Gwen Maze – Want You Back [Silver Network]
13. Maya Jane Coles – What They Say [Real Tone]
14. Lee Curtiss – The Glow [Cityfox Ltd]
15. Imugem Orihasam – Afternoon With Meg [Escapism Musique]
16. Maya Jane Coles – Simple Things [Real Tone]
17. Shonky – Maraboutage [Freak n' Chic]
18. Maya Jane Coles – Steal The Sauce [Dogmatik]
19. Seth Troxler & Lawrence – Miles In Aphrika (YouANDme edit) [CUTZ.ME]
20. Le Pena – South City [La Pena]

Techno

1. L-OW – Driver (Furesshu’s Die Welle Edit) [Project Squared]
2. Brandimarte – The Aspect [Powershack Digital]
3. Benison & Dosem – Northern Response [Sino]
4. Echologist – Dirt (Ben Klock Edit) [Ostgut Ton]
5. Dario Zenker – Belfort [Vakant]
6. Lonya & James Blonde – Cia Bella (Oliver Deutschmann Remix) [Chaim Rework]
7. Cari Lekebusch – State Of The Art [H. Productions]
8. Funk D’Void – Shadowchaser [Outpost Recordings]
9. Imugem Orihasam – Ni [Ilian Tape]
10. Billy Johnston – Space (Elon Remix) [Death Techno]

Downtempo

1. Pulshar – Da Creator [Desolat]
2. Intrusion – Never Forget [Ruin]
3. Tom Demarc – In Your Eyes (Wolf + Lamb Remix) [Wolf + Lamb]
4. Maya Jane Coles – Nobody Else [Hypercolour]
5. Sin Plomo – Parfumed [Plastic City]
6. Pulshar – Down By The River [Desolat]
7. Cassidy Locke – The Loa (Oliver Deutschmann Remix) [Statra Recordings]
8. Santorini – Supersoul (Bearweasel Lazy Dub) [Luna Records]
9. Chymera – These Jagged Shards [Connaisseur Recordings]
10. Ragga Fonda & Rio Padice – Long Island Bonus Beat [Welt Sounds]

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barre3 NYC Mix

Barre3 is a yoga/ballet fusion studio here in Portland that my girlfriend Kait is obsessed with. She convinced me to check it out when she mentioned she heard a Claude Von Stroke track in class. I was caught off guard by how difficult of a workout it was! I also hit it off musically with the owner, Sadie Lincoln, and dj’ed a live class and reception last month for their two-year anniversary party. We worked side by side to create this mix for their media event in NYC this month. The intent of the mix is to flow with the progression of Sadie’s class, so it’s a different progression and genre from what I’d play in a club. Check it out here:

Download

1. Maya Jane Coles – Love/Hate
2. Justin Timberlake v. Technotronic – Like I love you / Pump up the jam
3. Madonna v. Edson Pride – Get into the groove / Dreams
4. Tears for fears v. Pryda – Shout / Pjanoo
5. Tom Middleton – Shinkansen
6. Manuel Tur & Dplay – Deviate
7. Francois Dubois – Blood
8. Timbaland v. Til Von Stein – Way I are / Sundowna
9. Fergie v. Stardust – Glamourous / Music sounds better with you
10. Lee Curtiss – Freak On
11. MGMT – Electric feel (Hot natured remix)
12. Poxymusic – War Paint (Claude von Stroke mix)
13. Atlantic Conveyor – Nasty Things (Jamie Jones & Gadi Mizrahi remix)
14. Pete Dafeet – Bellyache
15. Out Hud – It’s for you
16. Outkast v. Still Going – Storytellin’ Theme
17. Home and Garden – Sexuality
18. Janet Jackson – All Night (Don’t Stop)
19. Mylo – Drop the pressure
20. Phoenix – If I ever feel better
21. Apparat – Komponent (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix)

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Top 10 house and techno tracks of 2009

It’s been an incredible year for dance music. Out of the approximately 200 releases I picked up this year, here are my 20 favorite tracks:

House

1. DJ T – Shine On [Get Physical]
2. Adam Marshall – Tool For Early Chicago (Seth Troxler & Shaun Reeves Remix) [Simple Record]
3. Minz – Pareidolia [Perspectiv]
4. Palm Skin Productions – Done [Dark Energy]
5. Maya Jane Coles – Breathe [1trax]
6. Palm Skin Productions – Pig Iron [Dark Energy]
7. Shonky – Carnage [Freak n' Chic]
8. Makam – When you love Somebody [Sushitech Purple]
9. Koljah & Oliver Deutschmann – Eaten Back To Life [Konsequenz]
10. Bjorn Wilke – Flanell (Someone Else Remix) [Kaato Music]

Techno

1. Nagano Kitchen & Jerome Sydenham – GSXR 810 (Adam Beyer Remix Part 2) [Apotek]
2. Patrick Specke – Bitchual Linestepper [Desolat]
3. Portable – OK Then [Musik Krause]
4. Maetrik – Choose Your System (Adam Beyer’s Choose Your Local Warehouse Remix) [Triefstoff]
5. Nathan Fake – Narrier [Border Community]
6. Dusty Kid – Pluk [Boxer]
7. Speedy J – Klave [Rekids]
8. Slam – Ghost Song (Joris Voorn Remix) [Soma]
9. Mutant Clan – Inside [SCI + TEC]
10. Voodeux – Bones [Mothership]

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Novation Launchpad Dissection

I haven’t satisfied with the reliability my arduio-based monome clone I built earlier this year, so I sold out and got a Novation Launchpad. At $200, it’s nearly half the cost of materials as my DIY project and is obviously in a different league of build quality. Despite not providing a learning experience, this is a button board I’m not afraid to leave the house with. On top of the improved reliability, the multi-color led’s look great, the buttons are more responsive and the automap controls to ableton got me up and running instantly. I’m quite content with the purchase.

Not to deny my inquisitive spirit though, I promptly dissected my launchpad upon unboxing. The board’s shift-register-based  schematic is similar to my arduinome, but it differs by consolidating the buttons and processor onto the same board. This would explain the launchpad’s relative robustness as the issues in my old device were primarily caused by the wire connections between my button board and arduino. If I ever attempt another controller project, a single board design is definitely what I will strive for.

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End of summer house mix

The best summer I can remember is coming to a close. Click here for a half hour mix of some of my favorite house tracks to remember it by:

Summer 2009 Mix by PeterMarks

1. Felipe Velenzuela & Dani Casarano – Tia Anita (Alejandro Vivanco Remix)
2. Minz – Pareidolia
3. Wouter De Moor – Afternoon Thing
4. Bastian Schuster – Bell Bala (Jacuzzi Boys Lost In A Jacuzzi Remix)
5. Ryo Murakami – Ride
6. MyMy – Everybody’s Talkin
7. King Kooba – Slightly Burnt
8. Outkast v. Still Going – Story Tellin Theme
9. Pryda – Odyssey
10. Mirko Loco – Liah
11. ATB – Underwater World
12. DJ T – Shine
13. Juan Sanchez – Secret Stash
14. Marco Carola – Bloody Cash
15. Ubu – Pixels
16. Palm Skin Productions – Done
17. Dennis Ferrer – Sinfonia Della Notte
18. Garnica – Sexy People (NOP Remix)

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