Monday 31 December 2012

Upgrading to Windows 8 - Part 2

Since my first attempt, I've heard from couple of people, that they've successfully upgraded their machines to the Windows 8, so I tried to do this again. Now, in late December, upgrade assistant finally accepted my billing information and I was good to go.

First problem I faced was lack of disk space on my laptop's drive. Somehow Vista had managed to take up about 40 GB of space and I was unable to free up the required 16 GB to do the smooth upgrade.

Since there was nothing valuable on this drive, I burned Windows 8 installation DVD and allowed it to format it. All and all installation took me one evening, mostly because I was doing some other things in parallel on the stationary PC.

Friday 28 December 2012

Google AdWords

I've been running website for past 7 years and it has become quite a collection of DJ mixes and sets. This has never been a commercial project and I believe it will never become one, but so far, it is indeed the only one real website I've launched, that has some actual value to the potential visitor.

While looking through Google Analytic's statistics once again, I've found that it is very boring and hasn't changed much through the years - there are some people here in Latvia, who know this site and check it out every once in a while and there are also some rare random visitors, who stumble upon it while searching for techno tracks or something. Anyway, it's roughly about 20 unique visitors per month and at least half of them don't find what they're looking for and never come back. Not impressive.

Wednesday 14 November 2012


I stumbled upon this site one day:
"Who-ho-hoo, this will be a funny read", I thought as I was anticipating to find some bullshit about how you can invest money into this MMM foundation and magically double it up in just couple of months.

I believed, MMM was a huge financial pyramid scheme created by some Russian fraudster back in 90-ies and now he's back on his feet, trying his thing again.

Upgrading to Windows 8

I have this old ThinkPad laptop, recently restored to factory settings and running pre-installed Windows Vista. After receiving endless upgrades it now runs pretty ok. Amazingly, even the usual DPC Latency issues appear to be resolved and it handles my sound card without major clicks and dropouts. It's however enormously sluggish and overloaded with build-in Lenovo software I don't really need. Booting up this thing takes forever.

As we all know, Windows 7 is by far better than Vista and MicroSoft claims that the new Windows 8 is even faster and more efficient. 30 Euros seems to be a reasonable price for the upgrade, so I tried to get it.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Live PA Setup - Ableton Live

While Bitwig is still beta-testing, Ableton has made a smart move, announcing the long waited release of Ableton Live 9 and offering a discount for Live 8 + free upgrade to 9th version upon it's release. I decided not to wait and ordered it on spot.

It appears I finally have got all the legit software for working on my live performance as well as a great platform for experimenting with new tracks.

The only thing left now are some cables and a decent laptop for running all this stuff when not at home. I wanted to check out Windows 8 to see if it would really make my old Vista laptop less sluggish, but MicroSoft fails to sell the upgrade for Latvian billing addresses, so no luck there yet. 

But at least in home environment I've got everything I need to start preparing and learning to play Live+Reason by MIDI controls fluently.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Moving Substance Website to Blogger

It has been several years, since my website has become outdated and I've been looking for alternative platform to move it to.

There were several attempts to find some suitable platform. The most recent candidate was the Google Blogger, formerly, BlogSpot. At first I set up my own blog there. After few months of evaluating it, I found that it provides basically everything I was looking for.

Last week I noticed, that they now allow disabling the Blogger's navigation bar at the top of a page, which was the last turn-off for me, so I took another try at moving the 85 posts and 57 comments collected through the years there.

Friday 13 July 2012

Live PA Setup - The Big Picture

I've had a hobbies of DJ-ing and composing electronic music for quite many years now. So, the natural step of mixing these two things together and playing my own tracks at parties has bothered me for quite a while, too.

I've seen many people doing this, using Ableton Live, but, pardon me, a guy standing on the stage, clicking his mouse and staring at his laptop does not really look like any kind of Live performance. No offence, but he might as well be playing Tetris, leaving music playback to the Winamp.

Then again, I'm not a hardware purist, doing all production using tons of expensive physical equipment. Computer plus the right software and controllers seems much more efficient to me and this is the way to go.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Recording Parties Using Roland R-26

Recording DJ sets from parties has always been a pain. Several techniques have been tried over the years and roughly speaking, my success rate at doing this might be somewhere about 50%.

The simplest solution - recording using a laptop is a subject to recording software issues, hard drive failures from vibrations, sound card hang-ups and what not.

At some point I've also tried small iRiver mp3 player/recorder. However, it's memory size allowed to only record couple of hours of mp3, not enough to record whole evenings and not really the best quality. Also, if battery would run out dry during recording, it sometimes caused recorded files to turn up empty.

I've been looking at Edirol R-09 for years, as it seemed that this was a defacto recorder for professional use. One of my concerns was that it is really old model and some other devices could probably have better features for the price. Last November I decided to make myself an early Christmas present and pick a recorder that would solve the recording issue once and for all.

Friday 4 May 2012

Direct Democracy

I've never liked politics. Anecdotes about USSR's leaders and all the crazy things I've seen on TV have put me off at an early age. I saw politicians mostly as anti-social human beings, manipulative, lying, driven entirely by lust for power and money.

I've grown to believe, that representative democracy, despite being widely considered as the least bad social structure, just doesn't work right. It can't work, because, at it's core is the principle of elections of the representatives by voting. And linear voting just can't work right, as it favors those candidates, that have the most ambition and ability to deceive and trick people into voting for them. Therefore, corrupt, shady and selfish government is inevitable.

Nowadays, Internet and various Internet-based phenomenons like Linux, torrents, Wikipedia have proven that decentralized, open, collaboration-based approach is extremely powerful.

Friday 23 March 2012

Mercurial SCM on Dropbox

Mercurial is a simple distributed source control management tool. I won't discuss the necessity of using source control for any kind of software development.

I also won't compare it to other source control systems (Quick note: for a large multi-developer project you might want to figure out git, as it outperforms Mercurial in almost every way, except maybe the simplicity).

The basic tutorial on using Mercurial is also already written by Joel Spolsky at

This post is only a quick reference about, how you can start using it right away and share small proof-of-concept type projects between several computers (in case you are like me, geeky enough to do this kind of stuff in your spare time).

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Audio Encoding Formats - MP3, OGG, FLAC?

No doubt, mp3 has been the most popular audio format for passing around audio files for years. I've used this format at, usually, at 160-192 kbit/s for mixes and 256 kbit/s for tracks.

Recently, however, I've started to think about other alternatives.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Reason 6

So, I've bought Reason 6 after all.

Few things to note, that may interest other potential buyers:

It can be used right away without waiting for The Dongle to arrive.
However, you have to install special Code Meter software, which causes an annoying Administration Rights dialog to pop up on every Windows start.

Another thing, using "Internet Verification", you have to enter your username and password every time you start Reason. There is no "Remember password" check-box. This is quite stupid, as even all the online poker game clients have "Remember password" option and they are dealing with real money!

Now, after the dongle arrived few days later (and took up last free USB port on the back of my computer), these annoying issues seem to be less disturbing, of course.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

"A Theory Of Fun For Game Design" Book Notes

Very odd thing, I've actually read a book recently, without even being ill or travelling a long distance, which are the usual cases I fallback to using this form of media.

The book was "A Theory Of Fun For Game Design" by Raph Koster. It is a very well written, easy-to-read material on how human perception works, what do people consider being fun, how games can be fun and finally how to design games right.

I felt like it's very important to not forget about these things, so I wrote down some of the most important excerpts and took notes. Naturally, if you're interested, I highly recommend reading the whole thing and hopefully this post will not turn out as a copyright infringement of some sort. Here it goes:

Monday 27 February 2012

The Dongle Nonsense

I've been spending some time recently working on my audio setup, figuring out what is the best way to utilize all my hardware and software, both for everyday use at home and for live performances at gigs.

Part of the plan was to find the perfect combination of legitimate software components, even if this would mean to buy some of them. I do already own a stripped down version of WaveLab and an iZotope Ozone 4 plugin. Both of them use different tricky authorization procedures, but still, downloading, installing and figuring out the activation takes few minutes.

Now, when I watched some of the Reason 6 feature videos, I was pretty impressed by all the new features. It's  still pretty costly, but it seemed that the software might even be worth it. Until I discovered that it requires a dongle or an active internet connection to operate!

Thursday 23 February 2012

About This Blog

The idea of creating my own blog has been residing in my brain for years, but I couldn't ever figure out the exact form it should take. 

What language do I choose? Which one's of my several interests should I cover? What relation, if any, do I introduce with my project? What exactly would be the goal and is it actually worth it?

Today I finally decided, that I shall try. I believe that transforming my thoughts into text form will help me shape them, evolve the ideas in my head and share the results with people who might be interested.

I chose English, as this will be the most challenging for me to use. It also seems to be the only language, that everybody understands at least a little bit.

I decided that I will write about any subject that is bogging me. By assigning proper labels, I should be able to manage my posts, maybe split them into separate blogs or delete some part of them in future.

So.. while writing this initial post, I've done a good job on figuring out what will this blog be about and that's a pretty good start.