Casio SK-1

February 25th, 2020

Casio SK-1

My workplace sometimes has these "treasure trove" days where employees can bring in objects they no longer want and give them away in a kind of anonymous swap meet. In the past, what you might describe as "junk" had a way of finding its way into my lap. That is to say, when these kinds of situations have presented themselves, I often end up with too much, thinking I can find the time and resources to repair or use various electronics. That said, I have been implementing a more minimalist lifestyle lately, but I still wanted to remain vigilant.

Thankfully, there wasn't much to piqued my interest, except for a literal bucket of Casio SK-1 sampling keyboards. It was too good to not pass up, seeing as I don't own a hardware sampler. I took two, in case on breaks, and I'm glad I did. It is really a treat to play and goes well with my other smaller keyboards. Score.

Simpler

October 24th, 2019

I just got done with publishing the latest iteration of this site. It looks a little more put together, especially on phones. For this iteration, I've moved to a new tech stack called GatsbyJS and boy, is it miles better than what I've been using in the past. Though it took some work to move to this new ecosystem, I'm reaping some good benefits including saving $60/year in hosting costs and being able to publish changes instantaneously. It feels really good to edit the code locally on my computer and push it to the cloud when I'm done. No more databases, no more servers, no more DNS routing. Just JavaScript and HTML.

The drive for simplification is part of a larger set of actions that have been taking place in my life lately. I'm letting go of a lot in an effort to make my life simpler. Friendships, business relationships, the amount of things I own, the schedule I maintain, all of that stuff became way to complicated for my liking. I wanted more control over my life and just like in Aesop's fable about the dude who couldn't get his hand out of the jar, I had to let go to move on. And that's kind of the way it should be, right? If you want things to be simpler, a great way to do that is to reduce the complexity of the system(s). Often times, that's putting the desire to help any and every person, to be everything to everybody, and to have everyone like you down. Take some of the weight off.

Raspbeat Pt. 1

July 13th, 2016

For years now, I have dreamed of building a hardware MIDI device. I initially got the inspiration after learning that the Rock Band drum set has MIDI capabilities. So, I bought a used one at Goodwill and proceeded to rip it apart. Upon examining the insides of the pads, I was pleasantly surprised that these mysterious devices were nothing more than a piezo sensor glued to a rubber circle. I'd learned about piezos when I was in school for Audio Engineering. My teacher (no, I'm not making this person up), Biff U. Blumfumgagnge, came riding into class one day with his MIDI equipped bicycle.

There were piezos all over the thing and he explained how they worked and I've never been the same. At the moment, it was clear that creating a MIDI controller is incredibly simple and absolutely in reach of anyone who dreamt of doing it. Inspired, I took my ripped up Rock Band drum set pads, soldered an input jack to its piezo, and screwed the pad and jack to a block of wood. After assembly, I grabbed my Arduino Uno and came up with a basic sketch for testing purposes (check it out here). After creating a makeshift box out of some old cardboard and some quick soldering, it was up and running. I hooked everything up and tapped the pad with a drum stick and voila, MIDI. I felt like a wizard. It was very rewarding to combine my love of music with my new love of code. More updates soon.

Jack Pad
Not as cool as Biff's MIDI bike

Hello World

June 3rd, 2016

New day, different place. I feel as though I'm long overdue for starting an actual blog. For the past three years, I've been running Maple Tree Studio with my colleague, Dr. Ian Nie, in Beloit, Wisconsin. I loved it. I love mentoring artists and recording many of the bands that made up the campus’ flourishing music scene. I met so many creative and talented people and got paid to do something I loved. Most importantly, I experienced real life issues never discussed during my musical education—like how to troubleshoot around the seemingly endless quirks of software/hardware that could derail a session and plunge morale down to the point of no return. Luckily, I'm pretty good at troubleshooting and could usually fix the problems. Those problems were my original inspiration for creating a web-based audio editor. I’ve seen too many people be intimidated by the limited (and expensive) options for creating new sounds. I got to work, and almost a year later, my application has the potential to shake up the industry by creating an affordable, intuitive, and powerful user experience. I’ve moved to Minneapolis to foster a career in creating the kind of user-friendly technology I want to see in the world, and I'm confident I'll create what I'm looking to find.