Diving into Periscope – interactive streaming with a musical edge

I’ve recently started playing with an app called Periscope, giving interactive music concerts at my stage piano.

My ‘cast’ (if that’s what it’s called?) includes talks on music theory, breaking down similarities in familiar tunes and of course playing the odd request – like a classical version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’ – or a mashup between Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and The Commodores’ ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’

It’s really fun – and my usecase seems to be a unique enough to get a mention in the Daily Telegraph‘s round up of the technology.

So, what do I get up to when I cast? you can find out on Mondays at 20:30 UK Time! At least, that’s the plan…

Essentially I’m talking about classical music theory using contemporary tunes – why is something catchy? What songs sound similar? What bits make a tune feel good? The session is mixed with live composition and conversation – content creation and audience interaction in real time.

Giving the audience access to the creative process and also a chance to communicate is pretty much exactly opposite to a traditional classical concert, where I’d be on a stage, far away from the listeners.

I believe it’s possible to demystify music without dissecting it, it’s so fun to explain what’s happening while playing some of the most memorable songs on the planet. I think this kind of informal direct broadcast is a great proving ground until I have my own big budget show where I have a huge grand piano and some notable musical guests to riff with.

Until then, viewers who make the effort to interact and contribute positively are going to shape how this cast evolves. How exciting! What works, what doesn’t, what do people want more of? I’m finding out every day. I’d hope to keep the audience interactivity if a big TV company wants to fund the huge grand piano and notable musical guests version.

For those of you reading this on Thursday 9th April 2015, there’s a replay available until 22:30 tonight, but you’ll need to download the app on an Apple device to watch at the moment. They say there’s an Android version coming. And, if you do visit, please ignore my faffing with the cables at the start, it definitely gets better.

At about 1AM this morning, I think I solved the problem of getting a decent audio feed in and listening at the same time, so Monday’s cast should have really rather good sound quality.

Oh and a final note from the technology presenter in me – streaming from mobiles has been available before – apps like Seesmic and Qik did this many years ago. But now data is cheaper, social media makes things more immediate, plus our connections are generally faster. This means the tech is ripe for mass adoption.

A notable alternative Meerkat has some big names endorsing it – Madonna released a video using this platform recently. I’ll let you know if I get a chance to try it out. And I’m sure there are other players in this area. In coming months we’ll get to see whether a single platform gains dominance, or if these apps can co-exist. It’ll inevitably play out over the next few months. Interesting interactive times!

The Origin of the iPad – kinda

Everything stems from something before it – after all, you couldn’t have Oasis without the Beatles, you couldn’t have the Beatles without Elvis, and you couldn’t have Elvis without … you get the idea.

Hidden Room at the Beeb

Click to Go to the BBC site: Analogue Computing, Polaroid's Back, Cockney Singing

RSS readers / can’t see the link? click http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/8710938.stm to go to the Beeb’s Site:

This is the piece I did for BBC Click all about analogue tech, and it was such a pleasure to do.

Some interesting behind-the-scenes stuff

  • The computer behind Kevin Murrell in the picture is an old analogue machine from the 1970s, it’s modelling a damped mass, i.e. adjusting the suspension on a wheel so it bounces properly. The oscilloscope shows the trace on screen.
  • The Analogue Computing Room is one of many fascinating places within the National Museum of Computing – there’s a working 2nd world war Colussus machine there, and a bunch of old kit including the beloved ZX spectrum – a lot of the stuff is hands on – you can touch and play with it!
  • The room was quite small, so the camera is right up against one wall, and Kevin is sitting down next to the machine – the camera’s tilted to get that shot.
  • The Polaroid brand has gone through some very interesting times and the name is now licensed out. After an FBI raid, the owner of the holding company will now have to do time in prision.
  • The Impossible Project sells reverse-engineered film for the old cameras. There are some lovely videos on their site and a tour of their factory
  • Adrian Tuddenham from Poppy Records has been given very strange artefacts to play in his time, including magnetized wire and paper. If he doesn’t have a player, he’ll make one. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of microphone technology.
  • The band in the piece are very charming, and called The Men That Would Not Be Blamed for Nothing – they describe their music, roughly, as “Victorian Cockney Grindcore”.
  • Andy Heintz, one of the band members, has 4 cats, the non-ginger cat is called “Ginger”.
  • Andrew O’Neill, another band member, is a stand up comedian and charming telly crasher, smiling in the background and remaining in shot throughout another person’s  interview in the green room of a New Zealand TV show. He also hosts Jack the Ripper walks.
  • To find out more about the Steampunk movement, you can build your own stuff, pop over to  http://steampunkworkshop.com/ .

Righty ho, back to work – my next piece is all about Fitness, and I’ll tell you all about it when I get my breath back …

Why do we Blog?

A two-fold post for you this time:

Part 1: More about the Blogging feature on BBC Click

Part 2: Why do we Blog?

Part 1.

This week was busy – the latest episode of Click Bits -the little 3 minute tech newscast – is now online… Click on the pic if you want to watch it.

(RSS Readers/can’t click on the pic to view? link here: Http://bit.ly/clickbits006 )

    …and my blogging piece on BBC Click is on this week’s show.

    Ah, the "Hello World" post - do you remember yours?

    Thank you very much Judith Lewis Mike Robinson , Marko Saric, Clare English and Andy Bargery for their cameos.   They each gave me about 20 seconds’ worth of blog tips on video, which I integrated into the piece.

    I took a few 3 second shots of some blogs at the beginning of the package

    They are listed here:

    Below are a few more blogs I’ve enjoyed reading in recent times:

    You’ll be able to read the whole transcript of the blogging feature here.

    • _

    part 2.

    Making the segment got me to thinking about when I first started blogging, so I went back and read my “Hello World” post i.e. the first post I ever wrote, which was about 90 posts ago.

    (If you absolutely have to, you can read it here. <cringe>)

    Then I wondered: What makes us blog? What drives us to leave a mark of our mundane existence on the internet? Who do we imagine writing to when we’re typing?

    So, of course, I came up with a thoroughly empirical theory.

    As a human, I normally spend a lot of time thinking, but my mouth blurts any given thought out after little (if any) moderation from my addled, overworked, overclocked brain.  I’m assuming that other humans experience this too.*

    If that is the case (and if we have the desire to do so) then writing could give us the freedom and time to craft a sentence, play with the words, and get a sense of perspective we can rarely access “in the moment”. We can proof-read our thoughts in type, then adjust that thought until it “makes sense” – to us, the authors, as much as any reader. This crafting of ideas into concrete might even result in learning something about ourselves we didn’t know until we saw it on the page.  Or of course, it could be nothing of the sort. We could just want to post pictures of cats because we love cat pictures.

    Incidentally, the above paragraph took 35 minutes to write, and included moving the sentences around, working out what I wanted to say – then making it sound nice to read in my head. I’m now doubting whether or not it’s a self-indulgent paragraph of pointlessness, and now I’m thinking it’s dinner time soon, and I should probably turn the computer off and deal with this later.

    Indeed, none of the above musings touch on the obvious love of story that permeates our very existence – mythology, fairy tales and even documentaries – but that is most definitely another post all on its own.

    So,  please leave your comments: Bloggers, Why do you blog? Readers, what do you read?  I’d be honoured if you left your thoughts below.

    *to paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, and probably a few others, the worst assumptions are the ones you don’t know you’re making.

    How to Move to the Cloud

    Well, it happened.
    My life reached critical mass, I had lots of things to do in many places, all of which require a variety of internet access, and an infinite amount of patience.
    If only I could defrag my brain this easily

    If only I could defrag my brain this easily- Time to get organised

    Time to move to the cloud …but how to do it without going bonkers?  The subject of my latest post,  I regret to admit, is the reason for a lot of non-blogging.

    _

    The mission was to move everything away from a specific platform (i.e. one laptop) and move it somewhere I can access EVERYWHERE, that would be on the mobile, both laptops, both desktops and at internet locations all over the known universe. Bleh.
    Does that sound like a nightmare? It was.  I’m nearly there, though.
    So here goes.
    __
    1. I have 37,000 emails I need to have access to on my outlook email – how can I access them somewhere else?
    Google Email Uploader for Apps
    First of all, I needed to find a way to see my old emails on the internet. As I own a domain, I opened a free google apps account – then took advantage of the free google email uploader.

    _

    I faffed about with pointing CNAMEs in the right direction etc and used the help pages quite a bit. Now your domain hosting service should be able to help out  if you’re thinking of doing this too, and they will be the people to talk to if you’re having a spot of bother.  It all worked fine after I’d sorted out the settings, but took AGES to run as there was so much email to upload.  Happily, after leaving it to do its business, I now have a fully searchable online email database.

    _

    2. Can I get GMail on the move?
    I use a Nokia N95  (although its days are numbered, poor thing takes a lifetime to go to “image gallery” now bless it) – and visited the Gmail mobile apps page to download gmail for my phone.  The mobile application for Nokia is now playing nicely with google apps users (if you’re on the mobile reading this, then go here m.google.com) So now I access my Gmail from my phone and any computer with an internet connection.

    _

    Only problem is that it’s still pull, but I’m not too bothered about that at the moment.

    3. I add appointments on my mobile phone and while I’m at the computer.  How can I see everything without it all going wrong?
    Goosync

    Goosync

    Now, it so happens that there is a little programme called GooSync which will happily sync your calendar with your google calendar for free. If you want to do other things as well, you’ll have to pay.
    (UPDATE – Goosync has now started charging as at 19-10-09 – £5.99 per year for this service. Oh well, there goes the “free”…)

    _

    Once set up  (and GooSync will send you a text message to sort all your settings out) you just go to the Sync menu of your phone, and synchronize your calendar.  Like Gmail on the phone, you have to remember to do it reasonably often – (do let me know if there’s a way to schedule it to sync regularly)  – but it means I can sync my phone calendar without needing a computer USB cable.

    _

    4. What about stuff  like Documents, spreadsheets – that kind of thing…?
    Dropbox File Holder

    Dropbox File Holder

    Enter dropbox, a brilliantly simple and automatic way of keeping your stuff in one virtual place.
    The way this works is you have a “dropbox” folder in, say, “my documents” and anything you store there gets Sync’ed up to your dropbox folder in the cloud, and back down to any other dropbox folders on, say, your other computers when they next connect to the internet.  The whole thing is done quickly and without any drama.

    _

    I have a dropbox app on my (mobile) laptop, and one on my (stationary) monster Mac Pro.  I access my docs on other computers by logging into the service online and accessing my files from there – downloading and uploading as I wish.

    _

    How clever – and great if you are on a work or shared computer and you don’t want to download your dropbox there.

    Yes, of course I use Google docs but find that sometimes docs uploaded from Excel/Word don’t really like it up there, and go a bit squiffy.  I love Google docs for the sharing,  but not for the sort of anorak-style colour-coding obsessed spreadsheet madness that I’m afflicted with.
    Dropbox is completely free for the 2GB version, however if you’re storing video or music, you might feel the need to upgrade to one of their paid-for options with more storage.

    _

    5. My infinite things to do list… er, a little help?
    nozbe project manager

    nozbe project manager

    I’ve been using Nozbe for a while, which has a “free 5 project plan” that you have to hunt for on the home page.
    Nozbe Project Managment

    Nozbe Project Managment

    If you’re a fan of “getting things done” by David Allen (and I am) , you’ll be familiar with the ideas behind this project management site – Although there’s a “nearly there”  ipod touch/ iphone app which accompanies this website where you  sync your “to-do’s” online with your nozbe account, I use Nozbe exclusively on a browser at whichever computer I’m plonked in front of.

    _

    This online project management tool will give you your “next actions” across projects.  This means that once you’ve entered your various (and copious) things to do in different areas – say “music composing”, “home admin” and “holiday planning” – you can see what needs to be done on each project THAT DAY. Really good if you are working on a few different things at once 🙂

    6. What about my contacts?
    Everything needs to be sync-able with everything else, so any changes made on one platform have to be reflected in the other.
    Zyb contact sync

    Zyb contact sync

    I’m so close to getting my contacts sorted.  Using zyb to synchronise my contacts from my phone to their internet site is pretty cool, but I’m still working out how to merge the ridiculous contact list on my phone with the laughably giant contact list on google apps.  I also have a gmail account that could do with a bit of a tidy.

    _

    This is the only area where I’m not quite sorted yet – and yes, I bet there are lots of paid-for ways to get my contacts in order and in sync, but I want to do it for free. And not with an iPhone 🙂
    _
    So there we have it – a move to the cloud which I’ve nearly managed… please comment if you’ve found something awesome that I’ve missed.

    Now for some chocolate.

    Nom Nom Nom 2009

    …is only 10 hours away, and I’m ready.

    No, of course I’m not ready, but I did source a particularly effective chef’s hat

    The last month has been brilliant, manic and, alas, almost completely sleep-free.

    Excitingly I’m going to be on the BBC again next week as my piece on Music Recognition should be cooked by then – first I have to get 2 or 3 internet shots at some ridiculously unsociable hour on Monday morning, before crawling into the Edit with both Callie the Editor and the sort of coffee that causes spontaneous leg-shaking and hallucinations.

    But before that in 10 hours’ time I shall be entering NomNomNom 2009, a charity cook-off where the fabulous Jemimahknight and I are charged with making a 3-course meal and serving it to 2-michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens – so no pressure there, then…

    Our team is called Bork Bork Bork – will report back with pix and video assuming I survive.

    W00t! new linguistics on the net FTW!

    Ok, I’m happy painting my life as a technology-loving geeky social network addict, it’s pretty easy because it’s true. I tweet and send pictures through my mobile on twitter and flickr, I am on facebook, qypeyoutube, ping.fm and I’m on other places where I can’t even remember my username – you get the idea, some of you are probably the same as me, or worse. 

    You’d think I’d be right up there, jacked in to cyberspace, fully comprehending the internet and not even seeing the code, as it were.  Sadly, I’m nowhere near where I want to be – still far too lost in the ether that is the new net-speak, although I’m clawing back some comprehension every day.

    Looking back through my (and others’) twitterstream, the linguistics of the internet is in the process of undergoing yet another evolution. I’m learning a whole new language in order to keep up with my much cooler and hipper online buddies.

    The emoticons we’re familiar with since I joined the internet (or before), are everywhere, even my dad texts and emails with 🙂  : – ) and 😉  ; – )  .  Stuff like BRB is pretty easy to interpret and a rough knowledge of phonetics and/or a willingness to tilt your head to one side is enough to make a start on translating the rest.  

    It’s all changed now there are so many new codes based on everything from gamer-speak to the economy of letters that Twitter’s 140-character limit has imposed. So what is the last resort of the enquiring mind?  I conclude that one needs to be either “in the know” or risk Urban Dictionary (and possible ridicule for choosing the wrong acronym) to find out the meaning and usage of the latest net-exclusive abbreviations.   

    On to the reason for the post – this Wednesday, I’m going to be on the radio talking about the pressure to ‘keep up’ on the internet, not just emoticons and phraseology, but also keeping up with your facebook friends and your twitter chums.  I’d love to read what you think.

    Do you feel anxious when you’ve not posted what you’re doing? Do you feel guilty if you haven’t blogged / updated your status for a while?  I’d also love to know whether you use acronyms such as FTW (or even WTF!) on the interwebs, whether you embrace it or can’t bear it, and if you have any good ones you can share with me…  Please feel free to leave your comments, and try to make sure that they are SFW 🙂 kthxbai

    p.s. you can listen live to the show on BBC Radio Scotland at 10.30 GMT on 15th April 2009.

     

    Mini Glossary for n00bs

    w00t! (with zeros instead of O’s, although this font doesn’t show it as well as the header) gamer-speak with disputed origins, usage: celebratory

    FTW = For The Win – usage is normally when you’re about to achieve something e.g. “eating 15 banana frittters FTW”

    SFW / NSFW = Safe For Work / Not Safe For Work – usage is normally preceding or following a link where it’s not immediately obvious where it goes – can be used on twitter when posting tiny urls – stops you opening an inappropriate link in front of whoever’s lurking over your monitor.

    kthxbai = OK, Thanks, Bye – Lolcats use this language a lot, pop over to http://icanhascheezburger.com/  for detailed exploration. You will waste time, though.

    Twitter Article hits BBC Website!

    Few things persuade me to get up in the morning, but knowing I needed to finish this article in time to have it submitted to the BBC News Website was successful in pulling the duvet covers off!
     
    After last night’s twestival, I arrived back home inappropriately late after spending the majority of the evening filming – it was a fun evening, even though I was working for most of it, and I hope that the very worthy charity: water will have benefited enormously from all the organisers’ hard work.
    Twitter Article on the Beeb!

    Twitter Article on the Beeb!

    The pictures in this article are by @lateral – you can see more here.

    In case you’re wondering, the article is all about how I think Twitter has changed in recent times as more people have joined. Click on the picture, or here: http://tinyurl.com/ljbbctweet to read it.

    I’m going back to bed…

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