DIARY 2014











Wed, Mar 19

<12:53 EEST> New remix. Much happy. Quite like the previous song, I had sat on this idea for a couple of years, and I had already finished a passage. However, I seemed to lack the gumption to fulfill all the grand schemes — I guess a full version would require a chorus and an orchestra. So last night, due to some unknown flash of inspiration, I decided to dial back on the epic and make something workable with what I got. It is more of a comedy piece than the rave anthem I once had in mind, and I am happy (pun intended) with the nice and compact outcome.

Also learned a couple of new tricks with my trusty old Korg — I have never really explored all its capabilities anyway, instead only trying to find the bare minimum that does what I want. I generally try to buy equipment with more features than I initially need, to keep them useful and interesting for longer (e.g. hardware that I can program freely). The Korg Triton Le is a rather extreme case, since after 8.5 years I am still far from exhausting its feature list. Of course, it has its odd limitations, one in particular being the single insert effect, but something like that can be overcome by external effects, especially given the multiple output routes.

Wed, Mar 5

<14:52 EEST> In my long though erratic tradition of movie reviews, today's Award for the Perfect Picture (thus answering "What's APP?") goes to Alfonso CuarĂ³n's Gravity. It demonstrates the awesome power of simple ideas in this age where it is possible to implement every kind of fantasy onscreen. Moreover, in a culture where science fiction has become somewhat of a bad joke, it is a monument to the power and mystery in honest, down-to-Earth-orbit physics. The ending deserves a special praise in doing just the right thing and nothing more; the film is virtually free of all Hollywood drivel.

Another recent movie experience with tastes of SF is Her. It is perhaps a little too obvious in the classical SF ideal of reflecting on our current societal problems in a remote setting, but gets the job done. I think it also exemplifies the relatively recent trend of SF becoming more commonly appreciated, rather than a niche for societally problematic young men. It is perhaps a cliche to claim that only in our time is technological development fast enough for the naked eye, but the exponential nature does give us some credit. Thus people in their 30s may actually remember a time before mobile Internet and realize they are already in the future, so maybe this science fiction thingy isn't such a preposterous idea after all.

The power of simple ideas has also been on my mind after listening to some old tracker tunes from our demogroup of early 90s. The technical limitations such as the 4-note polyphony of classical trackers meant that every note counts, and one way through them is an awesomely beautiful melody that transcends timbre and bitness.

On the cryptocoin front, there have been some intriguing developments in the recent months. First of all, in the flood of all the memecoins and funnycoins, I generally only take interest in new algorithms and other technological improvements, as exemplified by Blakecoin and Skeincoin. However, these two also have some marketing muscle behind them. Skein seems to be just another new hash, which is of course a good thing to have if SHA-2 proves unreliable, but then there are many other hashes and combinations thereof. But the name also carries some marketing value with its textile connotations — you can actually buy Skein socks by using the currency. Blakecoin, on the other hand, emphasizes the technical merits of a lighter/simpler hash, and the present availability of an FPGA implementation is a big plus.

However, the biggest cryptocoin phenomenon at the moment, IMHO, is basically a Litecoin clone, or yet another Scrypt coin. What makes Auroracoin special is the econo-social experiment it is meant to facilitate. As a result, the coin has seen immense levels of speculation, resulting in the third highest market cap. This is in fact rather questionable, as the coin is 50% pre-mined; the current speculation only applies to the small fraction of the remaining 50%. Nevertheless, with a unit price having swung over 0.1 BTC, there is something to be taken seriously here. Things will be pretty wild if the Airdrop actually succeeds in some form, and this isn't just a pre-mine scam.

Risto A. Paju