Archive for the 'this and that' Category

off topic: Can’t ssh into a Ubuntu 12.04 box

After a fresh install of Ubuntu 12.04 followed by an install of the ssh-meta package (which includes the ssh server and client) as well as firestarter (to allow ssh access through the firewall) I wasn’t able to login from a remote machine. Worse: firestarter didn’t show a denied ssh-access, which I expected after a fresh install. Fooling around with /etc/sshd_config didn’t change a thing. Until I stumbled about a piece of information on the internet, that open my eyes.
Starting up firestarter it displayed a message saying “Failed to open the system log. No event information will be available” and “Error reading system log (null), file does not exist.”. At first I ignored them and thought, oh well, I don’t care. But I do, ’cause that is the reason for not displaying the deny-message which I needed to allow access. Another search revealed the solution:

From Ubuntu 11.04 on rsylogd is installed rather than syslogd which firestarter was expecting. I edited /etc/rsyslog.d/50-default.conf by changing the lines commented out that create the relevant logfile

    # auth,authpriv.none;\
    # cron,daemon.none;\
    # mail,news.none -/var/log/messages


    mail,news.none -/var/log/messages

Then restarting rsyslog with sudo service rsyslog restart and restarting firestarter the problem disappears.

(the last bit I found on askubuntu)


Just stumbled upon another database of audio files under Creative Common Licenses: ccMixter. Amazing! It collects finished remixes on one hand and material to remix on the other. Instrumental tracks, drum loops, voices and the like. They can be searched by tags or filtered by BPM. A “How I did it” tab in the extras section some artists describe what tools, processes and/or samples they used.

Happy mixing! Just make sure to follow the licenses attached to the works.

Arduino 1

How I got my Arduino

A week ago I had the chance to participate in a wonderful workshop on sound design given by David Strang.  First, he gave the lecture “Surface Sounds” about his works. Then, in his workshop, he showed how to solder a contact microphone and how to make hydrophones (for underwater recording) and we went out to get some grips on the devices. Lecture, workshop and exhibition came to an invitation by Petra Klusmeyer.  It really was  good fun, and apart from that his inspiration made me to get an Arduino after all.

First grips

I got an Arduino Uno (R2) in a kit with some LEDs and other stuff so that I could immediately start with examples from the internet. A flashing LED, a dimming LED and the like. I got it fed electricity via USB but it takes away a lot of physical freedom. So I decided to practice my DIY abilities and soldering skills. I spent 2€ on a switch and a battery adapter and did some happy soldering. Notice on the picture (below, right) that one could have gotten away with less soldering, a recall to don’t drink and solder.

From cheap parts (left) to something handy (right)

Physical action

The kit had an LED with RGB connections. That is what most intrigued me from the start. After I understood well how to connect the wires I put the LED on a cable to attach it on my finger. With a very simple digital photo camera that has a longest exposure time of 2 seconds I wanted to take stills of the moving light with changing colours. I programmed the Arduino to flash a sequence that repeats every 2 seconds. The code is not beautiful nor flexible yet but it does the job (I might actually put the code as a comment to the post).

Pressing the camera button at the right moment I got a few nice pictures taken.

The Ring of Fire

a friend

A friend

a smoke

A Smoke

Music Theory

As a mostly autodidactic musician the concepts off scales, intervals, chords or rhythms can be quite mixed up, so when you work together with others it can get a bit complicated sometimes. Reading one’s way through encyclopaedias is lengthy, so I find it nice to find a book about all that, where knowledgeable people explain the whole picture. One place for such is certainly wikibooks. Users are working on a book on Music Theory since something like 2004 and it has gained quite a size. I was happy to see chapters on

Some other chapters are still quite short and need our efforts to be as good as the two mentioned ones.

Happy reading and extending!


Sometimes it’s really hard to find just that piece of information one needs to get done with the work. Searching a program’s homepage, looking around in the uncountable forums or playing with the settings can be very time consuming. On one of that journeys I passed by a site which I have seen before but did not remember:“Free manuals for free software”. Concerning music making I was happy to see the new Ardour manual and an Audacity manual.

There are many more documents about streaming, video editing and graphic design software, general Linux commands and other. The site is nicely made, very appealing to the eye and comes as well in other languages than English, however not all of the manuals are translated. Maybe YOU want to supply one?

FLOSS manuals screenshot

A screenshot from the FLOSS manuals main page.

Sound Transit – a different kind of sound database

A few months ago I already posted links to some sound databases on the internet. This time I want to present you another place which has – apart from the recordings –  a very nice feature to explore them. But one after the other.

Rather than just sounds of opening doors or dogs making love, collects field recordings from around the world “with an emphasis on the unintentional sounds which often go unnoticed in our daily lives”. The user is invited to upload their files and one can search and download everything under a Creative Commons-license.

What makes this site special in my opinion is the part where you can book sound transits: Since the recordings are filed with the place where they were taken you can enter two locations and a number of stops in between. As a result a mix of  corresponding sounds is generated and can be heard or downloaded. One example I like very much is a journey from Berlin (Germany) to Palma de Mallorca (Spain), via Egypt, India and Albania.

sound databases

Well, before going on to the promised topics I’ll tell you something else. When you are looking for samples, sound bites, weird noises or any other piece of sonic experience you might go out and record at your will. But you might not have recording equipment or there is no chance for you to find a suitable source. Then you will probably search the internet for help. There are a few resources where one can find samples for free but to me the most intriguing is

the freesound project
At one finds a growing number of Creative Commons-licensed samples. Anybody can listen to them, downloading is only possible after registration. This, however, is free of charge and easily done in an instant. You need a valid e-mail adress to do so.
The sounds are documented by the uploading user and furthermore tagged with single words. The site has a section with geo-tagged sounds to find the sound of a Waikiki thunderbolt or of a Greenland river.

not-so-free sound projects
Apart from above database, there are many more resources, but it is not always clear if the material is free to use or not. So it will be up to you to find it out. There is a sound search engine which will find a lot of links to sounds throughout the internet but you cannot be sure about the license. One would have to ask the provider of the samples concerned.

probably-copyrighted sound project
A different kind of resource is the wav planet where you find lots of quotes from movies and TV shows. This service is probably not legal in many countries of the world, so check with your lawyer or with your government.