Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Lady's Perogative: Wounded Aerth...

Is there such a thing as fiction spamming? Lets hope not.

Just posting to let you know that the new story has been started and is up.

Have a great evening and enjoy!

Brian Joseph Johns

Are Tablets And E-Books As Magical As Paper Books?

Imagine a world where people who practiced, possessed the ability to brighten or darken the atmosphere in the place they were with a gesture. Waving one's hands or a even a wand in the air to yield some kind of a result or occurrence somewhere else. By touch to be able to make things across the room come to life or once again become inanimate. 

Does this sound like a fantasy tale with impossibilities that we could never hope for? Think again because we're living in that world right now.

We can take a television remote and click a button to activate the television, turn on a stereo or perform a multitude of other things that would not have been possible many years ago through thin air. We can use a cellular phone to turn lights in the house on or off. Some houses have motion and temperature sensors that keep lights on in a room while they're occupied. We can take a video game controller and wave it through the air like a wand and magically it creates a picture or whole virtual worlds on the screen of your television in response. We can even gesture without a wand and speak words that activate other magic on your television screen, and control other appliances as such with devices like Sony's Eye Cam or Microsoft's Kinect.

We are living in an age filled with magic, though magic of a different kind that stems from our knowledge of the world around us.

Within this world, E-Books and Tablet computers have become immensely popular and are growing in popularity because that means one thing. That more and more people, kids, youth and adults are taking an interest in reading. A drop in readership of the paper counterparts to E-Books in this is a good thing as any magical Druid might tell you: "it preserves the living forest without losing the benefit of sharing knowledge and the many great stories that have been and are yet to be told".

The magic is contained in that act of reading because in that act, we are able to journey to distant places and experience things that we might never get to, but experience them almost like we did. Take the same E-Book and Tablet and read a comic book or watch a movie and it becomes a talking book with moving pictures. That sounds pretty magical to me though a different kind of magic than that of those who really invest the effort in understanding magic.

If Mila (the protagonist from my story A Lady's Perogative) used a Tablet, she'd likely use it for art and she'd find a way to use it that the people who designed it hadn't envisioned for it. That's another kind of magic. The magic of thinking outside of the bounds for which something is apparently defined.

That concept is more important than we realize and that is one thing that likely brings us much closer to real magic and wisdom.

Are we defined by the bounds of our membership or do we transcend those bounds and define them ourselves?

Magic does exist nowadays and it can be found in our technology. E-Books and Tablets are a magical thing because the idea of magic is found in sharing stories and knowledge and if we look a further and listen to those who've already tread the ground in search of the real thing, we might learn something wonderful.

So if hundreds if not thousands of years ago people were writing stories about these kinds of things, were they talking about their future/our present or were they talking about their present?

If we can look at and interpret colour images representing actual memories that are reconstructed in real time from MRI scans of our brain, then who is to say that there aren't people that have learned to do this without the use of a machine and read our minds?

If we can use magnets to invisibly push things around great and small from the metal arm on a fire alarm bell or the tremendous weight and load of a maglev train, who is to say that there aren't people who've learned to do the same things in a meager means?

I don't think that everyone who tries to explain experiences that they've had that most other people shrug off as nonsense are really as such. That is the nature of belief.

Chances are there are many people who have something to share that most who've ruled out the possibility of magic have lost.

Our imagination and our ability to believe.

The universe is alive with possibility so drink of it when you can and if you have a chance, why not read or play or write and create.

In Support Of A Post On A Social Network Yesterday

Yesterday, I missed highlighting a few points that I came across in my online travels and as such I am going to give them the attention that they deserve here.

They are in regard to the policy that Police Officers sometimes have to take when dealing with an armed assailant who is wielding a knife or blade. The post showed an Officer who was in a clinic receiving treatment for numerous knife wounds that he had succumbed to while trying to disarm an assailant. His wounds were severe and horrifying needless to say and those were wounds he received trying to protect both the victims of the attacker and the attacker himself. 

My statements in response for the Police in such incidents follows:

It must be a tough choice weighing between the protection and preservation of innocent bystanders and the protection of the assailant. What most people likely fail to understand is that it is often a choice that has to be made in seconds, if not less. That is a pressure and a huge responsibility that lies in the hands of those officers. Sometimes no matter what choice they make as officers brings them scorn but one thing is for certain, we don't get to experience the alternate reality of what might have happened if they didn't act (which thoughtfully is the poster's point). To show up on the scene and to instantly understand and diffuse the situation is a challenging task. One that few people could likely rationalize or understand. As much effort should be spent celebrating their life saving successes. 

We can't count how many lives are saved after we build the cross walk, but we can count how many lives are lost before its there. 

Thanks to Officers who must make those choices and to the poster for bringing that point up.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Another Identity Theft Heads Up...

I just want to send out a warning that someone else (probably close to my location) may be impersonating my online account, though it might be someone in another location. There are a group that sets up in some neighbourhoods, conducting illegal civilian based surveillance who employ a technology that allows them to steal passwords or view the contents of a computer screen from a distance, even without an internet connection.

I am Brian Joseph Johns, the person who wrote the stories on this site and one can confirm my identity through my friends and family, along with others who know me by my identity in person. This has been the case for a while as there seems to be a club of some form that conducts this kind of activity, swapping the identities of two people against their will. This group has been using this as a means of taking credit for the good deeds of others' while doing little to nothing of their own. Meanwhile you might get verbally throttled in public for their deeds. I am not talking about celebrities of course but people who want to take the identities of others because they've perfected a method of doing so. Keep an eye out on facebook for others who do this, masquerading as a celebrity while not being or representing the celebrity officially or in a context that is conducive of their identity.

The group that I am talking about use this as a method of stealing a person's identity so they can impersonate them in another location, pretending to be that person and to benefit from their activities.

In my current location (in the Sherbourne And Dundas area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada) there has been much activity of this kind and there seems to be some kind of value in impersonating me, while I want nothing other than to be myself (as financially poor and destitute as I currently am). Most of my location information is posted exactly as it is in reality and I live alone. Identity verification is tough when you barely make enough to be able to afford a phone, as that is the prime means that Google use for account verification. The internet acts as my phone for now.

Enough of that as I'm sure there are people who know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, in other news, the final ending and Epilogue for A Lady's Perogative is done, and though there might be a few changes throughout the story to bridge the plot elements correctly and clean it up in the next month, I would say that it's done. I look forward to writing the next instalment which is entitled A Lady's Perogative: Wounded Aerth. The Epilogue gives sets the stage for Wounded Aerth.

Thanks again and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thank you once again and Here It Is, The Big Update...

Once again, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Most of you are likely lethargic from the effects of dinner. Hopefully you've all eaten well and had a great day.

I just wrote a huge update to A Lady's Perogative, with an Epilogue and a Thanksgiving Day Theme as well that sets it up nicely for the next instalment if you have enough energy to read it. Starting it from the beginning of the last chapter will get you close to the new section.

Remember that it has a new location from the menus at the top of the blog. If you are so tired from having such a great meal that you cannot even move the mouse that far to the top of the page, then here's the link.

I Hope That You Enjoy.

All the best to you and most of all, thank you!

Greeting...

I'd just like to take the time to wish everyone who is celebrating today, a Happy Thanksgiving.

I was perusing facebook earlier and came across a post by someone that I respect and admire that I responded to and I'm going to reuse my response here, as it is applicable to today and to the them of this blog in general and some current issues.



Being grateful is important and yes fortune can turn on a dime, believe me I know that all too well. I like people making art even if it isn't avant garde or underground, there are always those whose creations have or are geared to mass appeal, and that can be a binding thread in a world that sometimes has too few. My hope in any art is that it challenges us to think in some way and that we learn or are changed by it and that by its legacy and prosperity, that it makes the world a better place by it having been created.

Great art isn't always defined by the risks it takes in confronting social values, as making people think about or question those values doesn't require them to be shocked. We see something and maybe we realize something about ourselves in process. Maybe that thing that we see helps us to love ourselves, forgive ourselves, or gives us the confidence to succeed. Maybe its a wake up call about something we should be mindful of. The question is what do we do with what we learn in that way? 

Yes there are people who try to steer or control art and the artist during the creative process so they can see themselves in its reflection and that is the ultimate narcissism as is forcing the painter's brush. The artist should be free to create and if someone shows up in that reflection, that is a sincere (perhaps silent) nod to that person or to people of their demeanor and a way of saying, "the world is better because you're in it" and I see you and you're beautiful. Love yourself. It could just as easily go the other way too. This includes every art form there is. Painting and Graphics, Movies, Theatre, Music, Television, Literature and Verse, Fashion, Sculpting, Architecture, Body shaping, and of course Parenting. There are others that don't get recognized as well, but they're there. The artist though should never feel ashamed or be made to feel narcissistic because they sign their art (or have their picture near it as is the case in most written works).

Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Is art the social mirror or is it the guiding force? I think that it's both. That is why the magical brush of art and creation should be wielded with care. "Be gentle for she is delicate".

Read the story of Echo And Narcissus as I think that it tells much.

Thank you for challenging my views enough to really think about them and express them and enjoy whatever you may be celebrating today. You're a great artist.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Identity theft heads up and updates to come...

Heads Up

Hello readers where ever you might be.

This is just a heads up to those of you who are active online and spend time making your social effort in such a way as much as you do your creative pursuits and your play.

There is a new breed of identity theft that you should be aware of involving others stealing your actual online identity and masquerading with it as you in public in or near your surroundings, or possibly in other parts.

It appears to be a coordinated effort often involving more than one person. 

Those involved may even swap identities and reputation with you in that regard which can have a detrimental impact upon your career and love life if you're not careful.

Keep a good circle of people in person as much as you do online and if you can, get the two to mingle in some way if you can. That way you're ensuring that someone can identify the online you as well as the offline you. It might make a difference in future opportunities and in terms of how you're treated publicly and by peers who don't know you personally.

Updates...

A bit of a busy week coming up, but within the week I plan on making some additions to A Lady's Perogative and Stories From The End, both of which I have moved to easier to find menu at the top of the page. You will also find there a list of links to other great sites, youtube channels and blogs and some other goodies.

Enjoy the rest of your day,

Brian

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Evolution Of Software Digital Instruments...


Since its acceptance by the musical community as a networking standard for musical instruments around 1983, MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface has changed the face of music and how it is created around the world. Being both a cable standard (defining which pins do what on a 5 pin cable) and a standard for networking protocol used to transit information between instruments, MIDI itself covers a lot of ground in terms of its specification as a serial interface.

In the days before interfacing with a computer (few computers were capable of the requirements with the exception of the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga, both of which were way ahead of their time), the instruments and all of their sound presets (known in the day as "patches") were all contained in solid state memory within the instrument itself. Often these patches were ROM (read only) and the instrument contained a small portion of battery backed memory that would store the parameters such as ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release) for your VCAs (Voltage Controlled Amplifiers), VCOs (Voltage Controlled Oscillators) and VCFs (Voltage Controlled Filters) after you had turned the synthesizer off.

During the computer revolution which followed shortly thereafter which found household after household with the versatility of a home computing device, more and more digital music enthusiasts emerged. Some (such as my friend Chuck K.) might argue that the ZX Spectrum or the Commodore 64 long preceded this revolution with capabilities such as 4 oscillator synthesis (four note polyphony) and multicolour video (sometimes as many as 16 colours on the screen or even by throttling the computer a 64 colour mode).

Artists like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis all of whom were producing electronic music in the 1970s had started a progression in music that has branched into many different styles and genres. During the 1980s and 1990s one of the forces that became instrumental to forging the Rave scene and the electronic music movement was the Demo and MOD music scene. During this movement, coder groups would get together and show off their latest graphics programming and music demos, most of the music being produced in the MOD file format, a file format that stored the note events and digital samples and synthesis parameters inside of a single file. These were the first digital parties there were and they would prove instrumental (forgive the pun) in opening the doors to the electronic music scene and forge the way for bands like Depeche Mode, and many of the modern electronic bands we hear today. In Europe, this movement was tremendously popular and forged the first early electronic dance songs and inspired many of the popular artists or the Rave movement and dance scene.

In the mid to late 1980s a music computer was developed that was built from the ground up for the job of producing music using a mixture of synthesis and sampling. This computer was known as the Fairlight CMI and was a force in the production of many records (there were still records at that time). Trevor Horne used his to produce bands such as The Art Of Noise, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Propaganda and albums by 1970s super rock group Yes. Its sound was unmistakable by the way of its often used Slap Bass, Air Choir or its most commonly used Orchestra Hit patch. At more than a hundred thousand dollars per unit, these computers found their way into high end studios more so than into the homes of garage musicians and music enthusiasts. The Fairlight's impact upon music is undeniable. Similarly, Yamaha's Synclavier and the Clavanova too were high powered music workstations whose power versus price were still beyond the reach of most musicians but they too had tremendous impact upon music production and the design of future music workstations.

Throughout the 1990s synths were produced more and more in a modular rack cabinet form without the presence of a musical keyboard, as MIDI allowed musicians to connect their existing keyboard via a 5 pin MIDI cable to the rack mount version of a synthesizer to trigger its sounds. This modularity allowed musicians, composers and studios to build stacks of synthesizers each of which had very unique sounds or were strong in one area while lacking in another. Using one synthesizer for its rich piano and strings sounds versus another synthesizer for its brass and synth pads sounds was and still is common practice.

As home and business computers grew in performance and computing power and more and computers contained high quality sound hardware, a gradual transition occurred seeing MIDI instruments becoming virtualized in software, arguably the first targets of virtualization besides video game emulators. This meant that the entirety of the bulk of computing necessary to perform the various algorithms responsible for sound synthesis in popular keyboards like the Roland Jupiter 8 or the Korg Poly-61 or the Yamaha DX7, each of which use a different algorithm to produce its synthesis was possible as well as emulating more recent synthesizers such as the Roland U20 and the ever popular gigging musician's keyboard the Korg M1.

With the introduction of these virtual instruments, Steinberg's Cubase standardized the production of these virtual instruments (calling them VST instruments) inside of a redistributable file format common on the Windows PC making it possible to trade in complete synthesizers just by copying a file to your computer and using it in Cubase or your music production software of choice.

When instruments found their way into the domain of software, buying new instruments or simulating existing classic instruments became possible and the price of doing so became affordable to musicians everywhere. Add to this the fact that the internet made it possible for musicians to share digital instruments and record tracks with other musicians from around the world by sharing the production files, audio takes or bed tracks.

For those of you who are looking for such instruments, try VST4Free, a great service which catalogs free and commercial synths available for download and evaluation in an easy to navigate format.

For those of you who are looking to jump in on a virtual project, try Digital Musician, a software that allows you to collaborate on music tracks with others over the net in real-time including webcam and chat interface along with the means to stream audio for recording takes and collaboration.

For those of you looking for Vintage sounds try Korg's Legacy modules which includes the M1 (Advanced Integrated synthesis) and the ground breaking Wavestation (Advanced Vector synthesis making it the first synth to offer wave form linear sequencing and morphing). 

Checkout Yamaha's Legacy collection for their VST versions of their classic synths, which have always been best known for their use of FM synthesis and their great piano sounds.

Roland doesn't seem to be offering VST synths but you can read about and maybe write them to asking them to revive some of their synths in a virtual format like the U20 or their classic analog synths. They do have this page covering their discontinued Virtual Sound Canvas, a virtual synth which ran on the sound canvas engine, which was primarily designed under the General MIDI 2 specification and was the MIDI audio producing engine in many sound boards.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rememberance And Thank You

I'd like to take this time to say thank you to all of the men and women of our Armed Forces both past and present for their dedication to our values and for the great sacrifice that many have made in the name of upholding those values, at home and abroad.

I'd also like to say that regardless of what side of a border that one may be on in the midst of conflict, that the weight of such is a great one. We should remember that regardless of our differences that those who've risked all to represent those values bear the full weight of it for the rest of us, regardless of what those values represent and what we agree with or not.

Therefore our conflict should be laid to rest but its price and the price that has been paid should be fresh on our memory, lest we forget.

To the Veterans and members of the Canadian Armed Forces our allies and those that share and protect the same values, and to the Veterans of all of those who've bore the weight of conflict where it has arisen to see beyond it when peace found its way home.

Thank You

It is through your dedication that the rest of us remain free of conflict and live with peace.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Updates to A Lady's Perogative

Just to let you know that several new chapters have been added to A Lady's Perogative as it nears the close to this book of that story, entering into the realm of the second draft.

Meeting in the hall received an update on November 5, 2013 along with new chapters on November 6 and November 7, 2013.

Search for Meeting In the Hall.

Yirfir's rescue and a confrontation with the Power Lord of the Estate all ensue along with a lot more. Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading.

Brian Joseph Johns

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Music, Theatre, Paintings, Books, Television, Movies And Games

There has been a lot of effort to attack the ideas associated with any of these art forms many times over history and while to their defense, we have the amount of interest and social learner those art forms garner.

Each of those arts essentially has arisen in that order over time, regardless of how you believe we arrived in this mortal coil whether we were created by a ruling conscious entity over the entirety of the universe or we are merely an emergent quality of the combination of many nearly non-existent particles interacting governed by a few simple rules. From earliest time, we learned that we could make noise to mimic other sounds, most likely the beating of a person's heart being the foundation to all rhythm, possibly even the memory of your mother's own beating heart from inside the womb. Most likely even to tell that story.

We learn to make noise and to organize it into an experience that defied the chaos of day to day life around us. We also learned to enact our experiences to one another, in order to tell the story of how we discovered a great source of food, or how we learned to grow it or even hunt it. Others who saw the stories enacted could learn from them without the risk associated with really experiencing them.

Around the same time we learned that we could use materials around us to makes dyes which we could use to paint representations of the chaos around us, or the peace we found within it. Those who later heard those sounds and saw those paintings could learn from them without the risk associated with experiencing them.

Further on down the road as we learned that we could take those same dyes and use them to symbolize our language, and write down records of our experiences or even create experiences that didn't exist without transgressing the line between truth and lies. Again, others who learned to recognize these symbols that represented our language could read these stories and once again learn from them without actually experiencing the associated risks based upon someone else's experience of them or upon their imagination for what had not happened.

Many centuries later, we had learned that we could make copies of these written works and paintings with a printing press (and later lithographic and stenographic printing) and share them with many people everywhere as long as they could understand the symbols of the written works and had healthy visual sensory organs to perceive them with and once again many more people could use them for learning without experiencing risk or even share music via a written language to describing the playing of a piece of it with an instrument.

Centuries once again passed and we had developed a means of storing these experiences using electricity and a magnetic medium, and the age of audio and picture recording was born. These again were used to build up a representation of real or imagined experiences that enabled us to learn about life without the chance of causing harm or being harmed. 

This art form matured over the course of a century and more and eventually found its way into digital electronics and computers. Once again a new presentation medium was born and the results lead to digital graphics and audio and video games. Video games proved to be an interactive means of learning from situations and experiencing them with the risk, much as books and movies had, with the difference that one could provide input to change the outcome of the experience.

All throughout the history of these forms of art and learning, there have always been people who have attempted to stand against them for one reason or another, often failing to see the merit in them or mistaking them for a complete replacement for reality. Often those that do stand against such art forms attempt to subject those creating them or experiencing them to hate, almost as a way to stop them which encourages more people to seek them as an alternate experience to the one reality is giving them.

All of these art forms and means of learning and experiencing real or imagined situations have been priceless to all of the world and have often predicted or lead to discoveries that had not existed in the world's mind. So to shun them is to misunderstand their value in society and life. They are not a replacement for reality but they are definitely a means for learning about it and sometimes shaping it and making us think about situations that we might not understand otherwise

More importantly, they provide a sense of accomplishment when we do learn something from them, an epiphany, which is something that fuels the human experience and when that experience is translated to reality, it can result in huge benefits to life everywhere and often leads others to materialize other new and exciting art forms that ever shape our reality. In experiencing them, we keep ourselves yet we are changed by them having taken part in such an experience and today many people have learned to apply a creative touch to whatever it is they might do.