OS X Network

I have two macs. One is a laptop and one is a mini. The mini has not mouse, monitor or keyboard. I control it with VNC. This works out great 95%-99% of the time. Except for last week when it didn’t. I told the Apple Updater to do some install it wanted to do and the computer didn’t come back on the network. I hooked up the computer to a video projector and discovered that it wasn’t booting. The round sunburtsy thing it does during startup was just going and going and going.
I borrowed a mouse and keyboard and re-installed the OS from a 10.5 disk and then re-enabled Remote Management and then installed all the updates, etc and it works now. What a pain, though.
And, also, there’s a slight difference. On my laptop, finder windows have a left-most column which list the drives on my computer under “devices” and “places” and “search.” There’s also a section called shared and it shows my Mac Mini. If I click on that, I get a big icon of the disk and two buttons. One says “Disconnect” and the other says “Share Screen.” Below those are a list of shared directories and drives. Before my computer had it’s troubles it listed the external firewire drive in the list. Now it does not, but still has the internal drive, my home directory and shared folders on the internal drive.
I’ve gotten addicted to doing network file transfers via drag and drop, and now I can’t get to my data disk? I have no idea where one would configure it to show up. It was not a shared disk, I just had access to it because I was logged in as me. Why has it gone away? How do I get it back? Woe is me! What search terms do I type into the help menu? I’m stuck!


According to some help file someplace, since I’m connected as an admin user, I should have access to the entire computer. Bugger it.

Live Blogging ETC – Cuisine Interne

Brussels Organization and feminism and creative commons. They have a patchwork approach weaving many themes together.
They do women and FOSS days every 6 weeks
Also a wiki about linux and audio, tinkering with trash hardware, wiki about publishing with foss tools (all in French), parties. Also working on a mapping project with Open Street Map and also hand-drawn maps by people as sort of subjective impressions. Open Source video, and a million art projects and parties. Artistically engaging public spaces.
Wrote some audio software for doing interviews. In python. Runs from command line. looks for a text file which holds questions. Starts with a test of the audio. The questions for the program are decided on by consensus of everyone involved in the project.
we are writing down questions now . . .. We all have post it notes. I can’t think of a question. Um . . . art and technology . . . um . . . .. Wow somebody else asks, “How do you connect art and activism?”
Ok, so we’re writing questions on postit notes and then putting them on butcher paper that’s been attached to the walls. We’re going to pick 16 of them.
The questions from previous versions are for working artists. (paraphrased) “How do you make a living?” “Who owns your work when you are finished?” “What is your price structure?” “How did you determine your prices?”
Now all of us are going to pick our three favorite questions.
(To be continued)

BrumCon 07 – Thin Clients

The first afternoon talk was on thin clients. You remember those tiny Sun Java Boxes? Or other weird, little, expensive boxes with no disks, that just ran on the network? Those are thin clients. But they need not be overpriced. An ancient pentium can become a thin client. It’s recycling and with no disks, it’s pretty energy efficient. Ergo, this is a green use of tech. And anything that resurrects useless hardware into a tool is fucking cool.
I forgot to save the notes I took. Um, ok, so thin clients obviously depend on a server. They do something called a PXE boot, where they ask for their OS across the network via DHCP and TFTP. After they figure out what servers they needed, they do some more TFTP until they get an adequate OS running on a RAM disk. So the operating system and an X server are running locally. (The terms “client” and “Server” are reversed in X, which is annoying. The server serves the graphics. (Don’t think about this too hard.)
When you launch an application, like OpenOffice, or firefox, that runs on the server, but is displayed on the client. These apps don’t have a lot of extra overhead if more than one person is using them at a time. There could potentially be security issues, because every keystroke is being transmitted across the network. Part of what you want to do is make sure that nobody bad can get between you and the server. Therefore, it’s best to run wires rather than wifi. Also, you want the thin client to have access only to the server. The server can get to the internet, but the clients cannot. Finally, risk is mitigated through ssh tunneling, which is now standard in many thin clients.
Edubuntu, an ubuntu distro does thin clients out of the box and is an easy solution. This whole setup is really great for NGOs since a lot of the hardware is findable via freecycle. Every edubuntu release gets three years of security updates, so you can set this up and not have to upgrade the server for three years. I want to help put together an NGO-ready-to-go set, and I think this model makes a lot of sense.
I wish I hadn’t lost my notes . . .
You can also do slightly thicker clients, where some apps are sent across the network to run locally, on the client. This is related to my plan to get cheap multi-channel audio for installation. What I want to do is get a bunch of motherboards that all have on-board audio. I want to stick them in a box together, with a giant power supply, where one of them would have access to a disk and the others would not. The disk-enabled one would be the server. I would hookup a screen, mouse, keyboard etc to the server, because in this case the clients are providing only the audio. They would PXE boot from the server, but instead of loading and starting X, they would load and boot the SuperCollider audio server (now you can see how the X windows stuff got to be backwards). The server would load the SuperCollider language. It would access all the clients (aka SC servers) via OSC. It would tell them when to play and what to play, load SynthDefs and Buffers, etc. Every client motherboard in this scheme is 2 channels of audio. So three motherboards is 4 (or 6) channels. Four provide 6 (or 8) channels. Etc. Ideally, all this hardware would be free (as in beer). I think I’m going to wait until my lease is up to start combing freecycle in earnest. But it would be so brilliant being able to drag a free box into a gallery or something and have all open source and a load of speakers. It’s not the most gigable solution, but yeah, brilliant for installations.
Um, anyway, if you want to get rid of p400 or better motherboards with on-board audio, drop me a line. I’ve got £0 budget, but I will generate a howto, so think of it as giving something to the FOSS community.

BrumCon07 – lunch

. . . continuing in too much detail . . .
After the first talk, came the Break for lunch. I took advantage of the gap to do my sound check. While I was trying to do it, three teens, two boys and a girl, approached me to mock me for using a mac. About half the computers that were used on the stage were macs, actually, a number that surprised me. I was somewhat annoyed with the teens as I was trying to do a sound check. They told me that they liked to spend their free time going to the Apple store to start arguments. Part of what was especially amusing / annoying is that I had exactly the same attitude at their age! I also liked getting into arguments with mac users! Gah, karma!
Mac users are fun to argue with because they’re so religious about their computers. But, of course, it was completely different when I used to do it. Because it was me and anything I do is justifiable because I do it.
When I was a young’un, PCs ran DOS and Macs ran MacOS. If you liked to do strange things to the operating system on your computer or to type rather than mouse around and generally try to cause small disasters, DOS was way better. Really. It was so clear at the time. Looking back, though, I’ve lost a lot of certainty. But, now Windoze is the hugest piece of crap ever excreted from a software company and OS X is unix.
I explained that when I started doing Pro Audio, linux’s support for it was not adequate and it’s gotten better lately, but I’m still on a mac. I also said that I was born and raised in Cupertino, California, so it was the home team for me. And anyway, it’s unix, it’s not like I’m running windows or something. “It’s BSD” the girl said, as the boys seemed confused by unix != linux. And I wondered why the right speaker was silent. They regrouped, it was the BSD that nobody wanted, shoved out the backdoor. I became satisfactorily annoyed and they wandered off. I went to find food ASAP, to become less peeved.
This was too funny. Anyway, for the record, there are some pieces of software which are not implemented well in FOSS, including score notation. I need to run mac or win to run Sibelius. And I’m sure as hell not going to run windows. Unix is better than Windows. Any Unix is better than any windows.
OS X does have a kind of reject history, though. It started out life as the Mach Kernel, invented at Carnegie Mellon. That kernel was not BSD, but was faster because it emulated BSD in an efficient manner. NeXT used it for NeXTSTEP, their weird operating system. This OS was used in some minor advances in Information Technology, like the invention of HTTP (aka, the World Wide Web). The first web server ran on what would become on OS X. MAX was invented on NeXTSTEP. Along with many other things. It’s hard to overstate how fucking cool NeXT boxes were when they first came out. By the time I got a job being a sysadmin on a NeXT cluster, though, the glory had faded completely and NeXT OS was about to die. It had such obvious faults. Like the totally proprietary windowing system. Why didn’t they just use X windows like everybody else?
Steve Jobs founded NeXT, so when he came back into Apple, he killed the plans to use the (far superior) BeOS, and switched directions so that the new OS would be NeXTSTEP. It’s fortunate that this did not turn into a disaster, since it certainly looked like one from the outside. Anyway, OS X is a respectable OS with a respectable history. Although it still has a propreitary window manger. bah.

BrumCon 07 – Morning

Yesterday was BrumCon07(.5). It was supposed to be in October, but was delayed. They plan to also have a BrumCon08 next October. So, when I arrived, I expected complete disorganization, but this was not the case at all. I plugged in all of my cables in the morning, but didn’t get to do a sound check right away as they were showing Pink Panther cartoons, which were the cause of much hilarity.
The room would probably have been slightly too big for my monitor speakers. But, during the Pink Panther cartoons, it was clear that something was deeply amiss with the PA. The MGM lion roar was deafening, and the incidental music and dialog was barely audible. The bass levels might have been perfect for a dance party. But then when people started talking, later, with a mic, it was ok sounding. I was concerned, but not alarmed.
The first talk was about hacker stereotypes and hacker ethics. The speaker had been famous when he was a teen for being Britain’s youngest (arrested) hacker. At 13, he was committing credit card fraud to feed his family. He didn’t divulge too many details, but it sounded as if his parent(s) had drug problems and neglected him. He had a computer, though. At 13, he couldn’t get a job, but he could use stolen credit cards to get groceries delivered to his house. He got arrested and tried for that. I think this would have been a really good time for social services to step in. I know we English speakers are very keen to punish everybody and make sure that people who do wrong suffer harm. But really, in this case, a kid stealing money for food? That’s a good time to look at food stamps (or whatever they’re called here) and foster care and whatnot.
Incidentally, this is why it’s not entirely unfair for Americans to think of the UK as being set in Dickens novel. (Just like you lot think we’re a cowboy movie.) Because leaving a kid in that situation is Oliver Twist like. Really, everybody, social services are good things. They help people get their lives together. They give a smart kid a future. But no, the British state sent him back home, where he kept doing credit card fraud, eventually getting less altruistic about it, until the point where, as an adult, he stole £750000 ($1.5 million) by breaking into unsecured e-commerce servers and now has an adult prison record for hacking.
Alas, he fails to distinguish between his actions at 13 and his actions at 18. Anything he did was justified simply because he did it. Now tech companies are reluctant to hire him and this is totally unfair!! Right, step 1, lose the attitude. The banks he broke into, let him fix their problems for them. The movie Catch Me If You Can was based on the memoirs of a kid who did a lot of fraud and then started working for banks. That’s probably the best future for this kid. But seriously, what’s putting people off as much as the prison record, is the whiny, self-righteous attitude. You don’t have to actually be sorry about breaking into wide-open servers. But you could perhaps try to create that impression?
I think morally, there’s a big difference between ripping off a bank and ripping off a person. Breaking into a server hosted in somebody’s living room is different than breaking into a small company’s colo, is different than breaking into a big company’s server farm. The bigger the target, the less moral trouble, imo. This didn’t come up at all, even in a discussion about the morality/ehtics of breaking in. I would think the Robin Hood model would be fundamental to such a morally murky area.
So the speaker was whining about how his juvenile record is permanently available via Google. Which is why newspapers shouldn’t reveal the names of minors convicted of crimes. It’s meaningless to seal juvenile records if it’s going to be so easy to find them. The speaker seemed to think he was special in this regard. Imagine a group of people whose private business and embarrassing past was so easily available to anybody with a computer! Why, that’s never happened to any sensitive minority group ever before! I can’t think of a single other highly obvious example!
Yeah, I’m starting to have mixed feelings about search engines. Google has taken over a lot of government functions in the Silicon Valley. But this particular function is one that has more home in a police state than the benevolent, Medici-esque system that California and Google seem to be blundering in to.
More later . . .

Audio software on 10.5 / Intel


I’ve been starting to try to record things on my new mac, despite feeling cruddy with a bad cold. I first started out with trying to use the beta version of Audacity. It acted much more like an alpha version. After the 4th crash in which all my data was lost, I took a look back at the non-beta version of Audacity. This seems to be stable and work well. However, it just doesn’t have enough features to use it for composing. It’s great for recording a vocal-only podcast or running FX on pre-existing audio, but it’s not going to cut it for my needs now. So I turned to Ardour.


Ardour does just about everything I need. It’s a competitor to Protools and Digital Performer. And it’s free!! W00t. In the past, I only ever used this on my macmini because I had a disk space shortage on my old laptop. I was less worried about the program itself and more concerned about having space for y projects. Audio files can take up a lot of space.
It has some system requirements. If you’re on 10.4, you will need to install x-windows, if you don’t already have it, which means you need to go dig out your system disk. If you’re on 10.5, you will have other issues. It requires a helper application called Jack.


Jack is awesome. If you’re on intel, once you install it, you will need to open /Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup. Under the Audio menu, open the Aggregate Device Editor.
Aggregate Device Editor

At the top part, you can create aggregate devices and give them names. In the bottom part, you can see the actual audio devices on your computer, with check boxes next to them. Check the ones that you want to use.
Then, you need to configure jack. Fire up JackPilot. You need to tell the preferences to use your aggregate device.

JackPilot Preferences

Patching the X version

10.4 is now ready to go, but 10.5 has some changes in how X windows is handled. You have two options on running Ardour. One is to run a patch. The development team has already figured out how to solve this problem, but they’re short staffed or something and haven’t updated the version or download. Ergo, you need to apply some small changes to the program by typing a few things at the prompt. This is easy enough, but if you don’t like prompts, skip to the alternate solution.
The terminal application is located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal. Open it up. Between you and me, the terminal is awesome. It gives you all kinds of power over your computer. In a future post, I’ll link to a cool manual, but I can’t find it right now, alas. Anyway. Here’s what you do:

  1. Select the following text and copy it (by going to Copy under the Edit Menu or typing apple-C)
    Index: script
    --- script      (revision 2354)
    +++ script      (working copy)
    @@ -32,17 +32,22 @@
         sed 's/xterm/# xterm/' /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc >> ~/.xinitrc
    -mkdir -p $TMP
    -cp -f "$CWD/bin/getdisplay.sh" $TMP
    -rm -f $TMP/display
    -open-x11 $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    -open -a XDarwin $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    -echo ":0" > $TMP/display
    +if uname -r | grep -sq '^9' ; then
    +    # leopard will auto-start X11 for us
    +    :
    +    mkdir -p $TMP
    +    cp -f "$CWD/bin/getdisplay.sh" $TMP
    +    rm -f $TMP/display
    +    open-x11 $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    +       open -a XDarwin $TMP/getdisplay.sh || 
    +       echo ":0" > $TMP/display
    -while [ "$?" == "0" -a ! -f $TMP/display ]; do sleep 1; done
    -export "DISPLAY=`cat $TMP/display`"
    +    while [ "$?" == "0" -a ! -f $TMP/display ]; do sleep 1; done
    +    export "DISPLAY=`cat $TMP/display`"
    -ps -wx -ocommand | grep -e '[X]11' > /dev/null || exit 11
    +    ps -wx -ocommand | grep -e '[X]11' > /dev/null || exit 11
     cd ~/
  2. Ok, now be relaxed. If you don’t want to know more about what that code is doing, you don’t have to. Go to your terminal and in the window there, type:
    cd; cat > ardpatch
  3. Now, still in your terminal window, paste in all the code from the clip board, by selecting paste in the edit menu or typing apple-v
  4. Still in the terminal window, type ctrl-d. What you did just then was change to your home directory (with “cd”) and then put the code into a file called “ardpatch” (with the cat > ardpatch). And then closed that file by typing ctrl-d.
  5. Ok, now you need to know the directory where you put Ardour. If you put it in /Applications, then you’re going to type:
    cd /Applications/Ardour2.app/Contents/Resources/

    but if you put it in a folder in /Applications called Audio, then what you’ll need to type is:

    cd /Applications/Audio/Ardour2.app/Contents/Resources/

    cd is changing directory and you need it to change to a hidden directory inside Ardour, so the first part is the location where you stuck the program.

  6. Then type:
    patch -p0 < ~/ardpatch

    It will tell you strange things and possibly give you an error. Ignore all that. Instead, start jack with JackPilot and then click on the Ardour2 icon to start the program. It should start up, but for me, this took several minutes, I think just because it was the first time.

You only have to apply the patch once, so you're good to go from now on. Or you can try a riskier but easier route.

Native Version

Beta software is always fun, isn't it? You can try running the native version instead. It's beta. It could crash terribly. I haven't tested it much, so I can't recommend it or warn you away or do anythng else aside from tell you it's semi-secret location.
Well, it's more an open secret. I got it from the IRC channel on freenode. If you need help, that's a good place to go, by the way. (Is IRC undergoing a renaissance or is it just me?)
The native version is at http://ardour.org/files/releases/Ardour2.2-Intel-2920.zip
It's probably a secret for a reason. I'll give it a try this afternoon and let y'all know what I think.
The native version still requires Jack. You will still need to do all the Jack configuration listed near the top.


The nice thing about configurations is that you usually only need to do them once. Given the amount of awesomeness crammed into Ardour, it's totally worth the bother.

Back Online

I’ve been mostly offline recently. My laptop had some issues when I tried to upgrade to OS X 10.5. The install DVD couldn’t mount my hard drive. After some kung-fu, I got it to notice that my drive existed. It said things were bad. Bad indeed. (The more technical version (non-tech continues in the next paragraph): I booted single user mode off the DVD and ran fsck and the third try, it finally found my disk. It said I have a bad Master Boot Record. However, the installed operating system (10.4) still booted fine and it’s version of fsck reported no problems. So I went on my merry way until my concert, when the damn thing really didn’t want to boot. I briefly got a question mark on my splash screen. Gah)

But things still seemed fine with the previous system, so I resolved to ignore the issue until after my concert, which could have been a disastrous move, but wasn’t. Anyway, it’s almost certainly a software problem, fixable with disk warrior. So, a few days after the concert, when some audio software I was trying to use wouldn’t go, I finally tried Disk Warrior. It gave me some cryptic error messages, which it’s website revealed to mean that I should buy a new disk because the problems were physical. Ack!
Physical disk problems ALWAYS get worse! Or at least, you should assume that they will. Because one little free particle of disk that got rattled loose and is lurking there – that particle will eventually get hit by the read arm. Hard disks are a lot like records. The read/write arm is like the needle. And the bit of junk is like dust on the surface of the record. But instead of just making a popping noise, it’s much worse, because the disk is spinning much faster. The read/write head doesn’t just bounce over the debris in a friendly manner. When it bounces back down, that impact is at high speed, so it breaks lose another little bit of junk, which is then waiting to get in the way. So you start getting all these little bald spots around your disk where pieces have been knocked out and all of those pieces are waiting to get in the way and cause further damage. This process starts slowly, but once it gets going – yikes!
That was the second disk in that laptop! Grr. I speculate that it probably had it’s initial damage when I ran it into a pole on my bike over the summer. It’s generally bad for laptops to crash them into fixed objects.
Anyway, the laptop is 4 years old. I just replaced the power adaptor all of a month ago, but in addition to a new disk, it could really use a new battery and soon it will not want to run the latest and greatest software and it seemed like the most reasonable course of action was to replace it. So I waited until after the start of Macworld in case Apple wanted to announce price reductions. They didn’t. In the mean time, I read the His Dark Materials trilogy, of which The Golden Compass is the first book. The last two books are even more heavy-handed than C.S. Lewis. And the charges of it’s being anti-Catholic are true, alas. The first book is completely charming. But the other books seem more rushed and can’t stand alone as the first one can. They rely much more on cliche. I just don’t understand British atheists. They have a state religion, which they could be completely justified in railing against. But they never seem to pick the state religion. Instead they choose religions which their state is persecuting. They pick on Catholics, I guess because they support oppression in Northern Ireland. They pick Muslims, I guess because they support racism. Aside from them being colonialist asses, I can’t imagine what their reasoning could be. It really doesn’t seem like they take on very much risk by attacking the official church of their country. Is it misplaced patriotism? I don’t get it.
Finally, I want to declare a moratorium on non-programmers trying to write fantasy that involves computers. “She typed and words appeared on the screen. How could this be! She had no text editor open and was bypassing most of the operating system. The keyboard wasn’t even plugged in! the computer wasn’t even turned on! It was a cardboard display computer from a furniture store! It must be the aliens feeding it data directly from the USB cable that they helpfully brought with them from the Jupiter branch of CompUSA. What a lucky coincidence that they use exactly the same completely arbitrary sequence of voltage pulses to indicate different letters of the alphabet!” It’s also a lucky break that our alien heros brought with them a cardboard install disk with device drivers for their alien USB hardware – while bypassing most of the operating system. Maybe I’m too intolerant of extremely sloppy, ignorant writing, but really, if I’m going to read something, I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my time – time that the author didn’t bother to spend doing an iota of research.
Um, anyway. I got a new mac. I’m kind of concerned about how much 3 months of dog kenneling is going to cost, and plane tickets and at least I didn’t have to pay British prices for a new computer. I just sent email to the passport service again to ask what’s up with the consulate and my visa. I have a theory that they’ve written to ask my university for more information and the British postal service has inexplicably routed the mail through Poland via Nepal.
Um, anyway, reports of what software doesn’t want to work with 10.5 (Ardour, Gimp, etc) will be forthcoming.

Migrating to svn

There exists a piece of software called CVS. It’s very handy for keeping track of files across multiple computers. So if you edit a file on computer A and want to edit it again on computer B, it is a way of making sure you have the most recent version everywhere. Also, if you keep the main data store on a remote server, it’s also a way to do network backups. The only problem with it is that it completely sucks.

Fortunately, somebody wrote a new system called Subversion, or svn for short. There are a lot of different ways to migrate from CVS to svn, but I went the slacker route. I had some, um, glitches. To spare you my pain, here’s a slacker howto:

Moving the Repo

mkdir ~/tmp
cd ~/tmp
cvs -d [path to repository] export -D now [name of respository]

Ok, while that’s going, let’s think about where you want to stick your svn repositories. I stuck mine in ~/svn/[name of repsitory]. Every one gets it’s own directory, no sharing like you can with CVS. I tried sharing and I had a disaster, alas. Anyway, let’s say you’re logged in to the machine where you’re going to host your repositories, and, for purposes of this example, your repo is named “Documents.” You’ve got it exported from CVS and sitting in ~/tmp/Documents/
Ok, part of the reason that CVS sucks is because it’s so damn hard to move things around or delete them. Well, go to town! Now you can! Once you get everything looking lovely, create yourself a svn repository and put your data in it.

mkdir ~/svn/Documents
svnadmin create ~/svn/Documents/
svn import Documents file://[full path to your homedir]/svnrepos/Documents/ -m "Initial copy"

Ok, where that says, full path, it means what you get when you type: “cd; pwd” (without the quotes). If you type that, make sure to go back to our working directory: “cd ~/tmp”

Getting Client Machines up to speed

Ok, you have two options. One is to just blow away the repository that you have checked out of CVS and check out the new one from svn. Boom! You’re done! However, if you’re using this as a backup strategy, you probably haven’t backed up every file. For me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like the file and want to keep it around. It just means that I can regenerate it or I can live without it. Not because I want to, but . . .. I have a bunch of files that I don’t want to lose, but not so much that I stuck them in the repository. Which leads to the second option.
Remember, slacker means brute forcing. If you have a million client machines and not, like, 1 or 2, you’re going to want to write a script. But if you’re lazy and only have a few machines, it can be faster to do it by hand.
So when your were busily beautifying your directory tree: moving, renaming, etc? Do that to your version on the client machines.
Now, get rid of all those stupid CVS folder. This is easy. Cd into the root directory of the repository. Type “rm -rf `find . -name CVS`”. But don’t take my word for that. First try “echo `find . -name CVS` | less” and make sure you’re listing the directories that you actually want to delete. (Obviously, skip the double quotes, but keep those weird backwards single quotes.)
Create a temporary directory on your client machine and check out a copy of your new repo there

mkdir ~/tmp
cd ~/tmp
svn co svn+ssh://[network host]/[path to repository] Documents

Ok, there’s like a million ways to access a svn repo, but that’s the best one. Ask your sysadmin to set it up.
Now, this is the fun part. Let’s call the CVS repo A and let’s call the new one B. There are files that are in B that are not in A and vice versa. Copy all the files that are in B but not in A into A. This includes a bunch of .ssh directories. One in every folder. If there are files in B that you would rather have than the version in A, then copy those too.
Wasn’t that fun? Now do it for all your client machines. Ok, there is now an issue of files in your checkout versions that differ from the ones in your repository. So go to you client machines and do some checkins.

offline blogging: austria

I am in Vienna. I met many Wieners when I was in Linz and am staying with a woman I met named Marty. Many people who went to the conference in Linz flew in through Vienna, so last night, we had a small party. Several members of the vegetable orchestra were present. This legendary group’s shows include making instruments out of vegetables and then playing them. One of the folks last night apparently has a technique where she can get a zucchini to sound exactly like a tuba. They used to follow up the performances with stew made from the instruments, but this was time consuming and also kind of gross, so now they pre-cook their stew with other vegetables.
Last night was some of the most fun that I’ve ever had. We were artists and geeks and sex workers and Europeans and Americans and all feminist / progressive. Austria has its political problems, certainly, but the indie scene is great. We were hanging out at the queer center. There was spray paint on the outside wall that said "gender queer." It made me feel very happy. I really like that term.
The last day that the con was going in Linz was unbearably hot. There were my last minute workshops. A quick intro to svn, how to podcast, etc, but it was all so hot, the entire building emptied out and migrated to the bank of the Danube. I was not the only one who went skinny dipping in the (brown) Danube. After painting myself in thick coat of spf 50 sunblock. The current was swift. The water was freezing! So much fun.
Alas, my whole experience made me feel pangs for my youth. Ah, to be in a place where women work together and trans-masculinity is validated, and where my body is not a cultural artifact, but just the space that I inhabit, without expectations written across the shape of my chest.
Linz was home to some important historical figures. Bruckner used to play the organ in the town’s cathedral. Some of you will recall that Bruckner wrote for the wagner tuba and thus is important in its history. Also from linz was Adolph Hitler. He went to a real schule near the haupt schule where we slept. One of the people in my room attempted to determine whether he attended the school that we slept at. Since he was an art student and this was the arts magnet, it was a possibility. Anyway, she failed to find out. Maybe i slept in hitler’s homeroom?
I think that I am now involved in the european feminist forum. We are going to set up a wiki (or drupal) which has a bunch of howtos for activists and non-profits. Leftists simply should not be giving their institutional funds to microsoft. If they’re in to people power, they should use free software. Also many outside the first world don’t have the luxury to buy buggy bloatware because it costs too much. Our documents will hopefully be useful to folks worldwide. What do orgs use computers for? Their website, email, spreadsheets, documents, making posters and officy stuff like that. These kinds of applicstions work very well under ubuntu and don’t require much computer power. Old computers can be turned into powerful tools for activists.
We need a parallel structure. Anti-capitalists cannot depend on for-profit enterprise to solve their problems. This is a clear use for self-help and anarchism! Amyway, I’ll set something up when i get home and then make an announcement and then go away again. The intended audience is computer novice activists, so part of the issue is trust. It’s ok to link to other howtos, but its essential to gain their trust. They’re often suspicious of new technology and wary of geeks, so even if this project is redundant, the feminist perspective will help.


I’ve mentioned that I’m playing soon in Austria (12 July in Lintz). The information is here. Note that the concert is open to anybody at all who wants to attend, whether they are participating in the rest of the conference or not.

I think playing at hacker / open source meetings is a good idea. I’m looking into using Perl to talk to the SC server, just so I can submit a proposal to a Perl conference. Of course, I spent some time as a professional perl scripter and I once wrote a web server in it for fun. My first-ever SuperCollider project had quite a bit of perl in it, as SC3 was really very alpha at the time. so it’s not just a cynical ploy to get to play at a geeky gathering.
Also, leftist political conferences are a good fit. I’ve got American political music, for sure. I keep thinking about doing more of it, but my ability to manipulate non-English text is lower. I think I will do such a piece for the /etc conference, as I recorded a friend of mine speaking in French about feminism. (Do you want to be in the piece? Send me a recording, in any format, of yourself, speaking in any language, answering the question: “Are you a feminist? Why or why not?”) Anyway, there’s certainly plenty of American material to work with, alas.
So if you, dear reader, are doing some sort of conference about open source or hacking or programming languages or leftist organizing or any related field, you should drop me a line. Depending on the location, I may be able to cover my own travel expenses. I have no technical needs, aside from electricity and a sound system. If the venue is café-sized and/or in Holland, I can even provide my own sound system.
Hm, if only I had a few pieces in Esperanto . . ..