Photography, videos, sound recording and so on

Haven’t written much here lately.

Since I’ve identified what I’m actually after with my photography earlier this year, I’m taking mostly family photos – not of any interest to the general public.

And since Mitchie (and also Zuleikha) is/are more into video, I’ve concentrated a bit more onto the audio aspect of that – having been in professional studios not only as a musician but also as a technician, I try to “give back” some of the gathered knowledge from these areas to my family, my colleagues, and so on.

For some colleagues, I’ve made a (company-internal) video already about how to get the OCDC (Open Client for the Debian Community) IBM layers on top of a more or less “naked” Ubuntu 16.04.2, and I’ll make some more about the tools – both hardware and free and open source software – that I use, and about how I use all that stuff. De-Essers, compressors, LUFS sound leveling, something like this. Plus some microphone techniques.

I also tried to help someone in this thread of the LinuxMusicians forum, for whom/which I uploaded some screenshots to Flickr lately:

Screenshot_2017-03-17_17-57-10

Ubuntu Studio 16.04.2 LTS, running from a USB stick on my machine, with running QJackctl and the Hydrogen drum computer

FocusriteControl

Focusrite Control software, running on Windows 10

Other than that, I’ll cover some tools like Audacity, Ardour and the Calf Studio Gear plugins, Openshot and whatever I’m using. Since most of these tools are cross-platform, the colleagues might want to use them even on their Windows machines; let’s see.

These will be company-internal screencasts and/or videos, just for those people who want to / have to publish some public stuff on the companies’ official Youtube stream(s). Lots of stuff like that exists already, just look at the streams of people like Curtis Judd for instance. No need for me to add anything public here, since there are so many of these technical tips channels already.

Anyway; I’m quite busy most of the time, and just wanted to explain why you see fewer entries here, or on my Flickr stream.

Soon we’ll also visit some family members in Cologne; it’s about time for that as well. Plus both my brother, Mitchie, Zuleikha, and me want to see/visit the Music Store there – can’t wait for that…

Like always, thanks for reading.

Getting a bit more active with music again

Music was my first love”

sang John Miles back in 1976, when I was just 19. And he was so right (and I even played that song with one of the bands I performed with). And what do you do during long and cold winter days and nights, when you don’t even want to think about going out with a camera? Right – I remembered music.

And so I read a lot; I had a bit of catching up to do since I last dealt with making or even recording some music. I stayed with free and open source software of course, and Linux has a lot of wonderful tools to get creative these days. I ended up with configuring the repositories of KXStudio on my machine, so I can still use Debian. And for Zuleikha, who started composing and writing her own first songs, I installed Ubuntu Studio on Mitchie’s old Lenovo Thinkpad SL500. And there are other guys making cool stuff like for instance AVLinux – their user manual alone is worth a look if you want to get up to this stuff real quick.

Mitchie’s old machine has only a Celeron, and 2GB of main memory – so it’s not the machine for some samples of Grand Pianos I downloaded lately (one Yamaha C5, ca. 2GB, and one Steinway, ca. 5GB). I guess it would struggle hard if you put up some audio and midi tracks in Ardour with it, but for Zuleikha it’s nice to start arranging and composing with MuseScore. So today a USB type AB cable arrived, and I hooked up the machine to Zuleikha’s Yamaha YDP-142R piano:

7e1_1196392-mobile-ubuntu-studio

Mobile Ubuntu Studio

It all started when Zuleikha got some nice and easy pieces from her piano teacher, like this one:

7e1_1196393-bluestone-alley

Bluestone Alley, by Congfei Wei

I downloaded some free scores and tablatures for the guitar, and let’s see – maybe we’ll get some microphone to even record the small one playing her horn (and/or her friend Yuma, who’s perfect on her recorder)…

Of course I’ll also document this with the camera. Cannot wait. 🙂 So, with a bit of fantasy and dedication, winter is actually good for something.

As always, thanks for reading.

Back after some short maintenance tasks

Sunday afternoon I started upgrading our server, which until then was still running Debian 7.x “Wheezy”. And that will become obsolete soon – when Stretch will be released, the current 8.x “Jessie” will change its status to “oldstable”, and the current oldstable – Wheezy – will reach its end of (supported) life.

So we had to update sooner or later anyway, and a Sunday afternoon seemed like a good idea. Only that it took much longer than I thought; sometimes newer software (like Apache 2.4 instead of 2.2) does behave quite differently from what you’re used to, and new plugins and other server software also had to be learned.

But ok; we’re back, and even with a nice new layout – today, WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan” was released, and with it came what you see here: a brand new Twenty Seventeen theme which looks really pretty if you ask me. Of course you can customize it to your heart’s desires, which is what Zuleikha is doing right now. Me, I’m slower. I have to take in what I’m offered, and consider what’s good and what’s not, so I’ll leave it like that for the moment.

I still have to do some configuration jobs on the server before I can think about my site’s design. But that will be considered, too. For the moment, I’m happy with it as it is.

And as always (some things never change): thanks for reading.

Update, from 21:30h: Ok; i did go on and change the header image to one that I took. This is the Youth Hostel in Mittenwald, Bavaria, which lays beautifully on some hill between the Wetterstein and Karwendel mountains. I was out with my Olympus E-PL1 camera which had Mitchie’s Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7 lens mounted. Took this one on August 16th of 2013 during the sunset at f/8, and cropped and resized it here to 2000×1200 pixels which is the standard blog header image size for the WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme. Nothing else changed on the theme so far.

Thanks for viewing.

A point release to the rescue…

As it turned out yesterday, I had spent more or less the whole weekend for nothing – the IBM ‘Open Client’ layers didn’t accept my preinstalled and preconfigured version 16.04 LTS of Ubuntu. Too new, not yet supported.

So what to do? I asked the few colleagues which run Linux on their older notebooks – at least older than mine. Andreas was/is using Red Hat 7, which comes with a Linux 3.10 kernel – even older than my Debian Jessie, which had/has 3.16, so I knew that some things wouldn’t work. Daniel has Ubuntu 14.04, and when I asked him which kernel that one brings, he told me: 4.4…

Hmmm, same like 16.04? How could that be? Turns out that Ubuntu has introduced something they call the “LTS Hardware Enablement Stack”, with so-called “point releases”. He has 14.04.5, and the official IBM Open Client Live image with which he started has 14.04.1. So his recommendation was to install that official Open Client, and upgrade it to 14.04.5 like he did.

Which I tried at home yesterday evening, and which failed miserably – 14.04.1 couldn’t even initialize the graphics, with no way out except a hard reset (cold boot). No terminal window(s), no nothing.

Slowly I got frustrated. Compiling a kernel myself? Bah; haven’t done that since years. But what if…

I downloaded 14.04.5 which has the same 4.4 Xenial kernel like 16.04, and that installed like a breeze. So from first try and frustration to a readily installed machine it took me less than an hour. Plus it’s “Trusty Tahr”, and today the Open Client scripts at work didn’t complain and installed mostly everything I need (I manually installed some things like conky and VirtualBox before that).

Read more about that point release here if you’re interested.

So starting tomorrow I’ll go on and install the not-so-common stuff which we need for work, like the ICSW frontend for IBM’s Retain system to handle our calls. That’s built on Eclipse, and integrated into Notes, which sometimes makes updates more complicated than necessary – integrated all-in-one tools and Linux are quite contrary in their whole philosophy, and in their design. But ok; these Java-based tools have to run on everything including Macs and Windows boxes, so I can’t really complain.

I also ordered a HDMI cable to connect the machine to the 24″ 16:9 monitor I have at work; should arrive soon. Guess I’ll have a working environment until the end of this week, and then my W520 goes to a colleague who’ll give it to his father.

So I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and to using that shiny new machine.

Oh, and before I forget it: Mathias, one of my colleagues today asked me to take a few photos of him, which he needed for some forum or so. And when I asked him if I could use and show one of these here, he said sure. So here’s Mathias from today:

7e0_8305041-mathias

As always, thanks for reading.

A new machine for work

Three days ago at work, I received an email with the ‘final approval’ for a new notebook/laptop computer (everyone around here calls them ‘laptops’, but they’re sometimes too hot and/or too heavy to keep them on your lap for long). And yesterday, I got another mail telling me that the item was ‘shipped’, plus one from our local post office in Frankfurt – it had arrived.

Of course it didn’t arrive with what I had ordered – the IBM Open Client, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3. Instead, it had an image based on Windows 7 on it – which I wiped, and until the end of our office hours I had Debian GNU/Linux (the stable version 8, codename “Jessie”) running on it. But nevertheless, I wasn’t finished trying out the hardware, so I took it home. Here are some detail shots of it:

7e0_8275029-lenovo-tp50

7e0_8275032-lenovo-tp50

It’s a Lenovo Thinkpad P50, and I had to wait for it – all the colleagues who wanted a new machine right away got an older one. But my W520 was and is still doing a great job, so I had the time anyway.

It’s good tho that I took it home – newer hardware and Linux is still something which could cause you headaches. Turned out that the 3.16 kernel in the stable Debian wouldn’t recognize and detect a few items which are much younger than itself, such as the wireless card, or the sound. Some of the installed hardware required a kernel 4.x or higher, so instead of upgrading Debian to “testing” or “unstable”, I decided to put Ubuntu onto it – which is also Debian “unstable”, together with a bit of polish. With that – it has a kernel 4.4 – everything worked out of the proverbial box. Here’s a screenshot I made for my brother yesterday, while typing an email for him on that new machine:

Screenshot from 2016-08-26 23-46-43-1024

The machine has HDMI, Mini-Display-Port, and Thunderbolt outputs, so today I tried it on our 42″ Panasonic TV, which also worked. Good; my monitor at work has VGA and HDMI inputs, so I only need to order a cable for HDMI. And after adding the IBM ‘Open Client’ layer and copying some files from the old machine to this new one, I’ll be done.

This is a nice one. Should be fun to use it.

Thanks for reading and for viewing, as always.

Update, from Sunday morning:

I finished pre-configuring that new machine. At work, I will have to install the Open Client layer on top of it all, but for now I have 3 operating systems running on it: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and virtualized Windows 7 and 10 environments (both using 2 CPU cores and 8GB of RAM; this machine is powerful enough to even run them all at once – it has 8 cores and 32GB of RAM). Here are a few screenshots plus one I made using my camera:

Screenshot from 2016-08-28 11-05-42

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS running on Lenovo Thinkpad P50

Screenshot from 2016-08-28 11-07-35

Windows 7 (on Oracle VirtualBox 5) running on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS running on Lenovo Thinkpad P50

Screenshot from 2016-08-28 11-09-12

Windows 10 (on Oracle VirtualBox 5) running on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS running on Lenovo Thinkpad P50

7e0_8285040-lenovo-tp50

Lenovo Thinkpad P50 (running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) in front of my 24″ monitor (showing Debian 8 “Jessie”)

Again, thanks for viewing/reading.

Happy birthday

Today is not only my sister Silvia’s birthday. It’s also Linux which was announced on a mailing list 25 years ago. And so, the “article of the day” on the German Wikipedia start page is about Linux:

Screenshot-Wikipedia – Die freie Enzyklopädie - Mozilla Firefox: IBM Edition

Screenshot-Linux – Wikipedia - Mozilla Firefox: IBM Edition

Working with and using it each day – so thanks, Linus (and Richard and all the others). And congrats again to my sister.

P.S.: Two links in German which show the importance of Linux today:
25 Jahre Linux: Das Jedermann-Betriebssystem and
25 Jahre Linux: vom Nerd-Spielzeug zum Allround-Betriebssystem