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Chris McCormick - News

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  • 05/25/14--13:03: USA Happy Snaps 2014
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    So long USA, you were swell!

    I'm very grateful to Ico Bukvic for having me at Virginia Tech, Sofy and Hans for the NYC patching circle, Peter Brinkmann for having me talk at Google NYC, Joe and Theron for LA Crashspace and San Diego, and of course Dirk for putting us up for weeks in his apartment in New York.

    We are in Umbria, Italy now, on a very pretty hillside south of Perugia.

    I am playing some procedural electronic rave music in Turin next weekend at the Mini Maker Faire. Will post about that and other Europe gig dates shortly.


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  • 05/28/14--15:09: Algoraves Ahoy
  • TOmmf_FBtimeline.png

    I'm very lucky to be a small cog in a larger movement of new music called Algorave. This is dance music made by software algorithms, or to put it more poetically "sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive conditionals," in the words of Alex McLean who coined the term.

    I'll be playing some music from this genre live at the following places and times in the days and weeks ahead:

    I am very excited!

    The software I am using was developed inside Miller S. Puckette's Pure Data.


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  • 06/03/14--03:06: The Fate That Awaits Us All
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  • 06/06/14--12:52: Ciao Torino
  • IMG_20140603_194131.jpg

    This is the new Pebble watch-face I've been developing - "Torino". I think it is finished now. I am naming it after the lovely city we visited last weekend.

    Information displayed on the watch-face:

    • Current time.
    • Name of your present locale.
    • Custom text from a file on your server called message.txt (here that is the number visible below the locale).
    • Current weather conditions and temperature.
    • Current week day, day of the month, and month name.

    Tap here on your device to download the Torino watch-face onto your Pebble.

    Help yourself to the GPL licensed source code. Edit the file src/build_config.h if you want customise the settings. I'd especially appreciate it if you run your own copy of the PHP script and change the URL in the build config to reflect your own server so as not to place load on my server. That also lets you set up your own scripts to write whatever information you like into message.txt on your server. There is a demo script for displaying unread mail counts in that space, for example.

    Maker Faire Torino

    Had a great time and met some lovely people, gave a small performance with my GarageAcidLab Pd patch.

    The QA session between Bruce Sterling and Massimo Banzi was hilarious. After hearing them talk I feel like I should stick a little sundial and lodestone compass on my watch just in case. Probably not a bad idea.

    If you aren't already familiar with Bruce Sterling's work you should really check him out. My friend Fenris got me into his work some years ago. Way ahead of the curve for several decades now. I feel very fortunate I got to meet Bruce in Torino, and he was tremendously nice, showing me some amazing gesture controlled visualisations on his laptop and signing a maker-scene object for my friend. I'm kicking myself I didn't ask him a lot more questions.


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    syncthing-banner.png

    Amazing! I am blown away by this piece of software instigated by Jakob Borg.

    Syncthing replaces Dropbox and BitTorrent Sync with something open, trustworthy and decentralized. Your data is your data alone and you deserve to choose where it is stored, if it is shared with some third party and how it's transmitted over the Internet.

    Using syncthing, that control is returned to you.

    Syncthing synchronises directories of files between arbitrary computers and devices. It is:

    • Cryptographically sound.
    • Free and open source.
    • Decentralized.

    Initial tests live up to the hype. Beautiful execution, inside and out.

    Syncthing screenshot

    I contributed bug fixes to an Android port that you can install to sync files to your phone or tablet.


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  • 06/28/14--06:12: Floatinburgh
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    Greetings from Porto! Last night's algorave was quite something. Amazing sets from Julio d'Escriván, Andrew Brown, Renick Bell, and the inimitable Mico Rex!


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    moose-headshot.png

    Michelle has won the Noosa One Act Play Competition 2014 for her play The Invitation - hooray, and congratulations!!!

    I feel very fortunate to be married to such an amazing lady. :)


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  • 08/03/14--14:31: Charlie and I
  • chris-charlie-and-i.png

    Photo taken at London's Natural History Museum, recently.

    Had to post something else up here because every time I checked my blog to see how awesome I still am, I'd see my wife's face staring back at me. Awkward and unsettling.

    Self-indulgent meta: apparently this thing I am doing here is now called 'indieweb' by all the cool kids. Keeping a blog in 2014 is kind of ridiculous! :)


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  • 08/16/14--08:31: Just Another Floating City
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  • 08/26/14--07:41: You Only Live Once
  • IMG_20140824_145950.jpg

    Highgate Cemetery, London, UK, 2014.


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  • 10/05/14--03:58: Fwd: Italy 2014
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  • 10/14/14--05:14: RSS Image Feed Picture Frame
  • I should probably post more on here about the thing I spend most of my time doing - writing code.

    RSS Image Feed Picture Frame is a little piece of software I finished recently. You give it a list of RSS/tumblr feeds that have nice graphics as their content and it will display a random image from one of the feeds. There is a small daemon which displays just the images full screen and fades between them.

    The idea is to run it as a lightweight "picture frame" app for example on a Raspberry Pi powered HDMI screen hanging on your wall.


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  • 10/20/14--07:27: Wristwatch Wallet
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    Accepts bitclam payments via QR scan to nominated address and displays the total. Vibrates when payment is made and the total updates. Imagine one of those roadside vendors from Bladerunner accepting payment in this way. Sourcecode on GitHub.


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    I mailed this letter to my representatives yesterday, and also by email.

    Dear Senator,

    I am a member of your constituency, the owner of a successful small business of ten years, husband, and father.

    I oppose mandatory data retention in Australia. As my representative, I am asking you to reject any proposal implementing data retention in Australia, and any other increased surveillance of citizens.

    The concept that innocence is presumed until guilt is proven is a cornerstone of our culture and the justice system in our nation. I value my digital privacy. When I use the Internet, I want secure, private communication. I don't want to be surveilled and spied upon when I am not suspected of a crime.

    Mandatory data retention will be costly to Internet Service Providers and other technology-oriented businesses such as mine. These measures are bad for business and bad for the economy.

    Stronger surveillance does not make us safer, it make us less safe. The presumption that entities tasked with surveilling will not make mistakes with our data, or face any type of corruption is not correct. As you know, corruption exists and mistakes with data often happen - they are unfortunately inevitable.

    Our systems of justice and intelligence gathering should protect citizens against corruption and mistakes as much as they do against other threats. We already have processes such as warrants that law enforcement and intelligence agencies can legally use to carry out investigations and prosecute criminals. We should not be making special cases that will harm our culture later on just because people feel irrationally fearful.

    Courts around the world are finding data retention mandates unconstitutional because they violate individual privacy rights. Let's do the right thing in Australia and stop these proposals before they become the law.

    Please protect my family, my children, and myself from surveillance and data retention. Please reject any proposal implementing data retention in Australia, and any other increased surveillance of citizens.

    Thank you for your time.

    Best regards,

    Chris McCormick.

    Some of the text in this letter comes from the Stop The Spies website..


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  • 12/15/14--17:58: GBA GPIO tester
  • Here is a bit of code I wrote recently for the Gameboy Advance platform. It lets you use the device's buttons to toggle GPIO pins.

    animation of the code in action

    Recently I ressurrected LooperAdvance, a bit of 10 year old code for making music with a Gameboy Advance. I am hacking in synchronisation so that I can sync up the loops with Pure Data running on a Raspberry Pi.

    The Gameboy Advance has a pretty robust little 4-bit GPIO rated at 3.3v that could be neat for controlling some projects now that you can get them quite cheaply second hand. There are also wireless adapters available that will instantly give you 4 bits of output by remote control.


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    IMG_20150113_100829.jpg

    Obsolete technology no longer.


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  • 01/15/15--01:54: Dawn Approaches Ceres
  • I am really excited about space probe Dawn's arrival at Ceres on March 6th! Ceres is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Like many other people I've been eagerly anticipating this part of the Dawn mission for a few years. After a long trip via Vesta, NASA will get higher resolution images of the surface of Ceres from Dawn in the coming weeks.

    Hubble Space Telescope image of Dwarf Planet
Ceres

    "Ceres is almost a complete mystery to us," said Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Ceres, unlike Vesta, has no meteorites linked to it to help reveal its secrets. All we can predict with confidence is that we will be surprised." via NASA

    Hubble Space Telescope images of Dwarf Planet
Ceres

    Hubble Space Telescope images of Ceres, taken in 2003–04 with a resolution of about 30 km. The nature of the bright spot is uncertain. via Wikipedia

    We live in an age where there are new and exciting things to learn about every day, but this event really stands out for me. What wonders await us on this new world?


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  • 01/29/15--04:25: OMG Clojure
  • Last weekend was Global GameJam. My buddy Crispin suggested we use Clojure, a non-traditional member of the LISP family running on the Java virtual machine, and its browser-friendly cousin ClojureScript.

    Here is the game we built together, using graphics from Kenney.nl:


    (click to play)

    You can find the source code on GitHub.

    A couple of weeks ago I installed Leiningen, the Clojure package/dependency manager, and the VIM plugins, and started practicing.

    Literally every night for two weeks now I have been dreaming in parentheses. Writing code has never felt so comfortable. I think I may officially be a LISP convert.


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