Task Masters (or, Why the Crap Can’t I Sync my Task List?)

Screenshot of Wunderlist. The only task listed is "Fix Task Management"Let me be up-front about this: I’m obsessed with task management. I can’t get enough of it. The first thing I look at when I get to work is my task list, and the last thing I look at when I leave for the day is my task list. Given the choice between coffee and my task list, I will pick the task list one hundred percent of the time. I. Love. Task. Management.

I love it so much that I use three task management apps concurrently. At work, I use Things because it’s deceptively powerful but still knows when to get out of my way. (I sync it with other computers by way of Dropbox.) At home, I use Wunderlist because it’s simple and free, and because it’s cross-platform and syncs with a web app. On the go, I use the task manager that’s built into WebOS because it notifies me when I have things to do, and keeps those notifications visible until the tasks are done.

This is insane. I realize that. But I have a very good reason for this wackiness: nothing syncs with anything else! I can’t view my Wunderlist tasks on my WebOS task manager, or view my Things tasks in Wunderlist. Without Dropbox as an intermediary, I can’t even sync one desktop copy of Things with another. (more…)

Form is a Factor

I have entirely too many gadgets for my own good. I have an iPod for listening to music and playing games. I have a DS and a Wii, both for playing games. I have a phone for making calls and taking pictures (and in theory, sending email). I have a camera that just takes pictures. And I have a laptop that does all of these things. Do I have too much crap, or what? Wasn’t I supposed to have one magic box that did it all? (more…)

Bliptronic – it’s not just for blips anymore!

Bliptronic 5000I’ve finally gotten around to recording my Bliptronic 5000, which was actually harder than expected. The headphone jack is plenty loud but really noisy (as you’d expect from a $50 synth), and the line-out jack sounds crystal-clear on speakers – but it turns out that I’d need a preamp to record from this.

After moderate success trying to use an equalizer to remove the noise, I decided to just accept it as part of the synth’s low-fi charm. I ran it through Garageband’s “Intense Whispering” effect, which gave it kind of a guitar-ey sound. When no notes played, the noise ended up sounding like a rhythm guitar. Turns out if you run synths through some distortion and play with the EQ, you too can sound like Justice!

I have a tendency to tinker and tweak music until it’s perfect, which means nothing ever gets finished or posted. I’m trying to break away from that, and in that spirit I’ve posted several minutes of crazy noises that I recorded last night. It’s not particularly polished, but boy does it sound cool. I recorded the Bliptronic in one take, and during the end part the synth is actually unplugged. It turns out that if you touch the end of an unplugged patch cable, that’s enough to create some interesting noises.

Listen at your own risk below.

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New Song: Black Zero

I a few days ago, I finished a new track called Black Zero, named after the character from my friend Tom Pinchuk’s Ruin. (Shameless plug: his upcoming hardcover, Hybrid Bastards, rocks!) Anyway, have a listen:

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After the break: audio geekery and what’s next for this song.

Five Favorite Apps

I’m continually downloading new applications – and I admit, I probably forget about most of them within about ten minutes. But there are some that I’ve stuck with and can’t live without – here five of my favorites.

Times – A unique RSS reader that looks like an actual newspaper. I don’t feel great about the part that scrapes article text and pulls it into the app, but boy is it convenient! Support for Twitter and other social networking services is a nice touch too.

djay – A clean, solid DJ app. It includes neat features like touchpad scratching, iTunes integration, and a sampler, plus staples like the ability to speed up or slow down records without changing pitch, cueing and looping, effects, an equalizer, support for multiple outputs, and recording. There’s no automatic BPM detection and there aren’t as many features in djay as there are in industrial-strength apps like Traktor Pro, but what would you really do with four decks anyway?

Paint.Net – The image editing program Microsoft should’ve included with Windows. It’s easy to use, powerful enough for most of my graphic editing needs at work, and a shining example of good interface design on Windows.

Boxer – A unique DosBox front-end that wraps up your old DOS applications (read: games) into single files that work just like native Mac OS apps. Imagine what would happen Parallels fell through a time warp into 1994 and you’ve got the idea.

Xmarks – The bookmark tool formerly known as Foxmarks, this app lets you store your IE, Firefox, or Safari bookmarks in the cloud for easy access from another browser or the Xmarks website. It also adds its own links to Google searches, but those are easy enough to turn off if you’d like.

Let’s get started

I’ve finally switched over to Wordpress and set up a premade skin. I’ve spent about a few years making test pages and new designs, but I’ve decided to just go with this instead of spending more time perfecting and tweaking stuff. You can now comment on articles, if you’d like – I’d love to hear from you.

The archive, music, and downloads will be back soon – you can grab them from the old site at http://www.ragingmime.com/index_old.shtml if you’d like. And if you missed my original design – an eye-melting green checkerboard – well, consider yourself lucky.

I am in old-school rave heaven

The Prodigy - Invaders Must DieWell, actually, I imagine rave heaven involving glowsticks, loud music, and lots and lots of E, but one out of three ain’t bad. No, not that one, wise guy.

I downloaded the new Prodigy record, Invaders Must Die for two bucks from Amazon.com, and it’s fantastic – completely worth the eight bucks that it costs now. Forget 2004’s rock-oriented, largely forgettable Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, this is the real deal, with lots of wild, blippy synths and the monster beats that only Liam Howlett can deliver.


Record Review: Ant Neely – Not Fit for Human Consumption

It takes serious cajones to base a jazz track around the sound of a telegraph machine and a drum n’ bass beat, but Antony “Ant” Neely pulls it off in Not for Human Consumption. As the guitarist and synth whiz of subthunk, he’s made a solo record that channels the free-form jams of his band’s earlier work as well as the punchy, structured songs of 2005’s You Should’ve Been Here Yesterday. “Lucky” mixes a playful pulse wave bassline with sinister strings and samples from a 50s movie, while “Might as Well Whistle” sounds like the soundtrack to a 70s game show. The record is alternately bleak, goofy, and heartbreaking, and Neely brings the jazz chops and studio wizardry to make it all work. If the Flaming Lips swore off rock and formed a jazz trio on the moon, this is what they would sound like.

More info (and free, Creative Commons-licensed download): www.antneely.com