Monthly Archives: January 2011


Lets rock! – MIDI game guitars FTW

I have to admit not really a musician, but I do like guitars. I know a little of the lead blues scale and a few chords. I also love playing Rockband. I have dabbled with plugging my old electric guitar into the usb port of the Mac but the socket in the guitar has a bit of a loose connection so its always a crackly affair.
Getting the MadKatz Rockband 3 guitar for christmas and seeing the midi connector on it I thought it was time to try and plug that into the Mac. I ordered a MIDI to USB which just arrived and … well it just worked.
Rockband 3 midi guitar
It got easier to play it than in Rockband 3 as you obviously play what you want, so it was much quicker to get comfortable with it. Rockband 3 could do with a free jam mode like it has with the drums for this purpose.
Garageband does things nice and simply but it is very easy to record and playback then change instruments or add tracks.
What was interesting was that the effects combined with my playing errors come together to sound not too bad. In this video I just played a sequence of C F and G chords and picked a few instruments to render that with.

I also discovered (as I am not sure its documented but if it is I have lost the instructions) that the start button on the Xbox guitar switches the guitar to a no strum mode. Simply pressing and golding the fret buttons creates the note and sustain. The X and B buttons step the instrument up or down octaves. I am not sure if the others do anything. As there is no Whammy bar you cant do any odd effects. Also the thing missing from buttons is string bend which is a pity but otherwise this all feels great fun and you can make proper music.
I also plugged the keyboard in, they slider effect worked nicely on that, but as I know even less keyboard I went back to the guitar.
I have been sitting noodling around the scales making up little tunes, playing blues lead on top of a few tracks etc. Every time I go back to metal strings on the real guitar, as I don’t play enough, the blisters are pretty bad. These buttons are not having any such side effect.
It’s great fun.
When I tweeted about this I got sent this link to an even flashier midi guitar by @mummabear, check this one out, the Misa digital kitara

Brilliant tech game counters

I have, of course, been following all the tech and gadget news coming out of CES 2011 and there have been some interesting things other than stacks more TV’s and tablets.
This tech invention though is different, intriguing, tactile and clever.

Watching the video I love the tipping one cup into another that occurs towards the end.
Its not quite nano technology, but it is a breaking up of the traditional screen and device. Just as cloud breaks the processor/memory models up and spreads them this breaks the display up too. Nanotechnology separate individual pixels next? Now that would be interesting. Each pixel able to act as an independent physical unit based on its proximity to others.
So watch out for Sifteo :)

Product development crowds – Kinect hacks

I have really enjoyed the explosion of Kinect hacks that have taken place in such a short period of time since the release of the Kinect. The technology of the Kinect is fascinating in its own right (you can read more from the actual engineers here)
However its the consumer use of the device on easily accessible devices that really is driving things forward. Previously games hardware is locked away with preferred developers, its hard for ideas to happen anywhere other than in the studios. Here however we have people trying out all sorts of demonstration applications, some are sensible, some are mad but they all really help drive forward the product development.
Microsoft were initially saying they were unhappy at this, but I find that hard to believe in this day and age as giving things over to people to experiment and share globally is crowd sourcing at its best.

Not every demo gets released as an opensource piece of code but many of them are using an open source base and a commercial product with the Kinect.
In many ways this will expose more people to the concept of open source development. Let face it most people would not really grok the open source and sharing interaction that goes together to make software like Linux or Droid or even Opensim. However when video pop up os a device they have only just seen in the shops and may indeed have, doing things that are not sat on the shelves of game shops it becomes very real and prompts the question how are they doing that? Why are they doing that? Why are some people just giving away what they have done?
No doubt the games developers are looking at all the hacks and getting seeds of ideas or seeing things as proof of concepts that will drive even better kinect games.

Kinect and motion sensing is not the be all and end all of Human computer interaction but it does work well for youtube and vimeo demonstrations and pushes the world forward. Now if the Kinect had been locked down as Xbox only and not hacked in this way there would have only been about 20 kinect applications whilst we wait on the more polished production of the the games companies.
Standards exist already as can be seen from this article from the excellent Kinect Hacks site which is a great place to follow this trend.

Happy New Decade

Well here we are in 2011 and after a very eventful 2010 its looking even more exciting for the coming year.
The excellent news came through that Series 2 of The Cool Stuff Collective has got the green light, so watch this space, and I guess the wikipedia page will need updating very soon :)

My own wikipedia page survived a bit of a review based on notoriety between christmas and new year too. This is a very strange experience to be part of a crowd sourced discussion but not really be in a position to directly engage or join in the discussion. It does of course have that Ego altering feeling attached to it, but I was also intrigued by the appreciation of the processes, rigour and politics that apply to wikipedia. It is very easy to say its written and edited by everyone, but there is much more to it than simply the wiki technology. Wiki governance is something that tends to be overlooked in enterprise usage I think.

Anyway I am looking forward to the future as always, knowing there are some really cool things going on, but its worth giving this Second Life Machinima production a watch about the spirit of giving. Its a great piece of work :)
Happy new year everyone.