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Music Production and Experimentation – Part 3

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A follow on from:

Have created 'Classical', 'Foreign Hip Hop and R&B', and 'Soundtrack' playlists on my YouTube profile. Not much there at the moment. I'll add more as time goes on.

I've been looking at doing a music course of some sort for a while now (short course or even a degree). Fees can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

There may be some government help but you must fit specific criteria.

There are, of course, some online options which will also provide certification of skills if you aren't keen on spending too much time on campus and/or don't have the time/dedication to go the other way. In most cases, you'll have to pass an audition of some sort though which involves a demonstration of proficiency, a portfolio, as well as possibly an academic pedigree (high school or private tuition).

There will be some websites which will often place there reference materials behind walls of some sort but with intelligent searching you can often find a way around these limitations without having to register/signup for further marketing material.

Some material on programming synthesisers.

A place where you can purchase parts to experiment with .

There are a lot of tablet based music making applications now .

Sometimes you don't have a vocalist nearby. An option is to try computerised vocals.

Sometimes, I have difficulties with getting the type of sound that I want and/or need. Here are some itneresting manuals.

Having being having some frustrations with sound libraries being built with later versions of Kontakt/Reaktor. Has been frustrating me to the point where I thought is there a way to bypass the checks (easily possible with many simple system checks. I only investigated as I'm on a mobile prepaid connection at the moment which means that I am trying limit my downloads.).

Some interesting tips with regards to 'House Music'.

Setup a new Tumblr account. Basically, a mirror of my Twitter account.

Written by Binh Nguyen

December 19th, 2014 at 1:29 am

Password hygiene – every man’s responsibility

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Everybody knows what hand hygiene is: hands are disinfected every time we enter a hospital. In the same way as germ-free hands stops diseases from spreading, password hygiene helps to prevent the misuse of credentials. Password hygiene may feel useless when the effect is not immediately visible, but it is never the less very important in the age of information society.

Password hygiene is no harder that normal hygiene. Everybody can learn it with the following simple principles:

1. Store your passwords securely

Passwords on paper

A trick to avoid storing passwords in plain-text on paper

The best would of course be to store all passwords inside one’s head, but since remembering all credentials by heart isn’t simply possible, another good option is keeping the in your wallet. People keep money in their wallets, so most of us are used to store it securely.

Passwords can be “encrypted” on paper with a simple trick: use a common first part in all passwords, for example ‘Ma55i’, which you remember by heart. Then write the last part of the password on paper, for example ‘hU8kkP’. Only you will know that the complete password is then ‘Ma55ihU8kkkP’.

Remember also to make backups of it for example by xeroxing the paper slip. Use the money analogue to choose a good place to store the backup: put the important paper in a safe.

Using paper has some drawbacks, like the need to type passwords all the time. Using a piece of software on the computer will make things easier, because then it is possible to simply copy-paste the usernames and passwords from the program. The recommended program is KeePass. It is free and open source software, its internal functioning is transparent and it is unlikely to have backdoors or other weaknesses, and the same program is available for multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, OS X, Jolla, Android.

2. Use different passwords in different systems

It is dangerous to use the same password in multiple accounts. For example if your Twitter-password leaks and somebody can log in to Twitter using your account, they will quickly find out what your e-mail address is, and then for sure try to log into your e-mail account using the same password you had on Twitter. Can you afford to loose control of multiple accounts at the same time?

Here too, programs like KeePass help, because they facilitate the automatic generation of new passwords for each new account.

3. Use passwords which are difficult to guess and complex


KeePass password strength meter

Password crackers always start out by trying to guess typical passwords, like horse99 or 123hound. Don’t have a weak password that is likely to be cracked by brute-force password cracking tools. A good password is complex and consists of at least 9 characters, and includes both capitals and small letters, numbers and special characters like +-.,_:;.

Again, KeePass helps with this too, because it has a built-in password strength meter, which will tell you it the password is strong enough, or it can even generate the passwords automatically for you.

4. Change your passwords regularly – or immediately if you think it has leaked!

If the password is strong enough, then a suitable interval to change passwords is a few years. If a password is too weak, then it does not matter much if you change if often or not. Rule number 3 is therefore more important.

In KeePass the dates when a new password was saved is automatically stored, so it can also help you see how old your passwords are.

If somebody suspect somebody peaked over your shoulder and spied on your password, you need to change it immediately. Well designed computer systems show you on login when your previous login was. For example if you return to work after a holiday, and when you log in the system tells your last visit was a few days ago – while you were still on holiday – you will notice that something is wrong and know that the password needs to be changed.

5. Never tell you password to anybody

Never ever tell your password to anybody. No administrator on any system needs to know your password – administrators can anyway always reset your account and get the password that way. If somebody asks for your passwords, it is almost for sure some kind of fraud.

The most common reason for password leaks is that users have themselves told the password to somebody who had a credible enough sounding reason to ask for it!

6. Send you passwords to the correct system and only using a secure connection

When you are about to sign in to a system, try to make sure that you are really connected to the correct system and that the connection is securely protected. A common way to steal passwords is to do a so called man-in-the-middle attack, where the user is tricked in a way or another to enter their credentials to a false system, yet the connection is passed on to the real system so the user does not notice anything unusual. For websites make sure the URL in the address bar is correct before you sign in and make sure it contains the s in the https part so that the connection is secure.

This is however not a guarantee – sophisticated attacks can make the remote system appear perfectly normal with correct address and everything, because the attack might target the underlying network infrastructure. But none the less, every user must make sure they do their own part in keeping the systems secure, and what happens after that is up to the system engineers to take care of.

Original presentation in Finnish available on Slideshare:

Written by Otto Kekäläinen

December 19th, 2014 at 1:18 am

Tortilla, a Python API wrapper

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By Vasudev Ram

tortilla is a Python library for wrapping APIs. It's headline says "Wrapping web APIs made easy."

It can be installed with:
pip install tortilla
I tried it out, and slightly modified an example given in its documentation, to give this:
import tortilla
github = tortilla.wrap('')
user = github.users.get('redodo')
for key in user:
print key, ":", user[key]
That code uses the Github API (wrapped by tortilla) to get the information for user redodo, who is the creator of tortilla.
Here is the output of running:
bio : None
site_admin : False
updated_at : 2014-12-17T16:39:55Z
gravatar_id :
hireable : True
id : 2227416
followers_url :
following_url :{/other_user}
blog :
followers : 6
location : Kingdom of the Netherlands
type : User
email :
public_repos : 9
events_url :{/privacy}
company :
gists_url :{/gist_id}
html_url :
subscriptions_url :
received_events_url :
starred_url :{/owner}{/repo}
public_gists : 0
name : Hidde Bultsma
organizations_url :
url :
created_at : 2012-08-27T13:03:15Z
avatar_url :
repos_url :
following : 2
login : redodo
print type(user)
to the end of, shows that the user object is of type bunch.Bunch.

Bunch is a Python module providing "a dictionary that supports attribute-style access, a la JavaScript."

Did you know that tortillas are roughly similar to rotis?

- Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises

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Written by Vasudev Ram

December 17th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Flash not working in iceweasel

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If the some update of iceweasel has broken the flash in iceweasel,and all flash sites stop working , we might see the following message in the page Tool->Addons->plugins

The link given in the page to update the flash might be broken.

The workaround for this is to update the flash with the latest one from

Select the .tar.gz version for debian systems. Close all instances of iceweasel and Untar the downloaded package.

After the untar, we will get a folder named usr, a file and a file readme.txt.

We need to copy the file to the folder which contains the plugins for iceweasel.

For mozilla copy it to .

Now launch iceweasel and the problem with flash should not occur.

Written by Tux Think

December 15th, 2014 at 8:30 am

Posted in Linux,Trouble Shoot

Indian couple (1 Xoogler) buys small US bank, innovates online payments

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By Vasudev Ram

Interesting story of innovation in the financial space, involving an Indian couple (of whom one is a Xoogler a.k.a ex-Googler), a small US bank, and cheaper / faster online money transfers / payments:

(Did you know that the English word bank supposedly comes from the old Italian word banca (for bench)?

An Indian couple has bought a small bank in Weir, Kansas, USA, and is using it to innovate in the online financial payments / money transfers space (while preserving and improving the existing brick-and-mortar business of the bank). The site through they allow faster / cheaper payments or money transfers from the US to India (and currently, or soon, other countries), is Their rate for sending a payment under $1000 USD is $2.50, which works out to 0.25 percent. For above $1000, it is free (disclaimer: all this is according to what I saw on the site recently).

Suresh Ramamurthi earlier worked at Google on the Checkout product, and Suchitra Padmanabhan earlier worked at Lehman Brothers and Bankers Trust.

I saw this news via this tweet by Quentin Hardy (@qhardy), Deputy Tech Editor, The New York Times. (Saw it from a retweet by Bernard Lunn.)

The tweet goes thusly:

"Guy from India learns payments at Google, buys tiny Kansas bank, transforms money. Great, from @nathanielpopper…"

And here is the New York Times article referred to in the tweet:

Small Bank in Kansas Is a Financial Testing Ground

- Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises

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Written by Vasudev Ram

December 14th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

cc1: all warnings being treated as errors

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While compiling big source codes, written in C, most often using make, we can pass many options called as flags, to gcc compiler, to control the behaviour of the compiler while compilation.

Encountering warnings in any code is common, but some times while running the make command we might hit the error.

This is because the compiler has been instructed not to ignore the warnings and treat all the warnings as errors. This is done by passing the options -Werror to gcc compiler. Ignoring warnings in bigger codes is not considered a good practice and to avoid the same the -Werror option is used.

For example the make file could have a like passing the options as below.

We can see that the last option is -Werror. This flag causes the error that we saw above. So if we do not want to treat warnings as errors, we just need to remove -Werror from the list of Target Flags. But be careful, it might not be the wisest thing to do.

Written by Tux Think

December 14th, 2014 at 8:54 am

Posted in Linux,Trouble Shoot

bzr: ERROR: Not a branch:

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If you are trying to create a u are in the local branch of bazaar or for that matter any software code, we might get teh following error we try to pull the latest revision

For a newbie one of the common reason for this error could be simple fact that we are in the wrong folder.

Just change the folder to the folder in which the source of the code is stored in. For example if we ran the command

Then the source will be in the folder test, so before running the pull command first change the folder to test and then run pull command.

Written by Tux Think

December 12th, 2014 at 10:03 am

Posted in Trouble Shoot

Streem, new programming language by Ruby creator, Matz

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By Vasudev Ram

Saw this thread on Hacker News today:

Streem – a new programming language from Matz (

Here's the Github project for the Streem language.

It says there that it is still in the design stage, and not working yet. But given that it is by Matz, creator of the Ruby language, it should be worth keeping an eye on. There is one example at the Streem site that is UNIX-like, and another that shows some influence of Ruby syntax.

- Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises

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Written by Vasudev Ram

December 11th, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Project Enferno: RAD framework with Python / Flask / MongoDB / Redis

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By Vasudev Ram

Just saw this via Python Weekly's email newsletter. Enferno seems to be a RAD (Rapid Application Development) framework of sorts, using Python, Flask, some Flask extensions, MongoDB AND MongoEngine, and Redis.

Enferno framework

I've worked on a project or two using Python, Flask and MongoDB (which is a NoSQL database), and found it a useful combination for developing apps relatively quickly. Enferno may be worth checking out, which I will do sometime later and may then blog about it.

Here is an article about NoSQL by Martin Fowler that may be of interest to newcomers to the field. Fowler and Pramod Sadalage have also written a book, NoSQL Distilled, which is linked to from Fowler's NoSQL article page. I've read Fowler's earlier book UML Distilled, a small and useful summary of UML, and it looks from the title that their NoSQL book may be on the same lines.

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Written by Vasudev Ram

December 11th, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Linux Outlaws: Going Out With A Bang

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Hello everyone, my last post here was to inform you all of the impending retirement of Linux Outlaws, a podcast I’ve produced with my friend Fabian Scherschel for over 7 years now. It prompted many nice messages and comments and that’s really touching. I’m writing today to tell you that our last stand (aka the final show) will be live this Monday Dec 15th @ 7pm UTC.

We’d like to get as many people on board as possible for the final live recording and take your questions via IRC, Twitter and email. We’ll also be accepting audio questions and comments before the show if you want to send us an email with an audio file attached. Please keep it under 2 minutes long as we’ll have a lot to get through and we can’t accept anything over that. Around a minute would be perfect. Ask us anything you like, related to the show or not. Anything goes. Simply email before Monday Dec 15th.

Linux Voice issue 11 front cover

Linux Voice issue 11 front cover

Rather fittingly today I opened my mailbox (physical not IMAP) to find the latest copy of Linux Voice magazine waiting for me. As I looked at the front cover I noticed the image above and was pretty surprised. My good friend Les Pounder has written a 2 page retrospective on the show and it’s really humbling. When I tweeted him to say thanks he replied “look at the back cover”, I turned over and saw this…

Linux Voice issue 11 back cover

Linux Voice issue 11 back cover

Thank you to everyone who’s sent such nice messages and good wishes. Also a big thanks to Bytemark for their support over the years. Don’t forget to join us live on Monday Dec 15th via Youtube or Icecast. You can also join in with the party via IRC chat or Twitter and follow along. We want this to be a party and not a funeral, plus we really need your questions and comments so join us if you can.

I’ll get back to blogging more regularly as soon as I can once the podcast winds down. In the meantime have a wonderful holiday season if I don’t post before.

See ya,


flattr this!

Written by Dan

December 11th, 2014 at 11:12 am

Posted in event,podcast,update