Camel Audio out of business

It’s a sad day today. The first thing I read this morning was that Camel Audio, makers of the amazing Alchemy soft-synth, are out of business as of yesterday. I bought their synth about a year ago and have been planning on writing a glowing review ever since, but for various reasons never got around to doing it. Alchemy is (or should that now be “was”?) by far the most intuitive and most inspiring soft synth I have ever worked with. It was the first softsynth that actually got me programming a synth again. And it has (imo) the easiest interface ever, given the complexity of the program.

News travels fast these days, and various websites are full of disappointment and speculation. Some think Apple could have bought the company (now there’s hoping!), some commenters think CA went out of business because of piracy (which is absurd if you simply check the popular torrent sites: CA’s protection scheme apparently worked quite well), some think CA should now make Alchemy freely available (the absurdity of which I won’t go into). Internet as usual: lots of noise, little substance.

All that doesn’t change the fact that it is a sad day. I’m glad I can still fire up Logic, load an instance of Alchemy, and have hours of fun. I just hope I’ll still be able to do that in, say, a year, or two. There’s hoping indeed that some serious software vendor has bought CA and will continue development of Alchemy 2 (which apparently was almost finished, or at least well underway).

For now: thanks guys, you made a wonderful and inspiring piece of software. I (and many others) hope we’ll see you make amazing stuff again in the future.

New Gmail tabs

As of today the Google peeps think we need yet another new Gmail feature: tabs. Can you spell “feature bloat“? Fortunately you can switch it off. Now lets hope that they don’t remove that option one of these days. And yes, there are probably people whose lives have just gotten better because of this new tabs-thingy. So be it.

Logic Pro X

Summer holiday has just begun, I’ve got an arm-long list of things-to-do-around-the-house, we do plan to spend some time abroad as well, so all in all the days seem to be filling up quite fast. This website still needs content (hell yes) and I would like to find some time to make a wee bit of music somewhere between now and the first classes of the new school year.

So… why on earth did the good people at Apple decide to release a new version of Logic just now? I mean, it’s not as if I have nothing else to do, right? As if I have the time to install this (probably) fine piece of software and dig deep into all its new features. I suppose they couldn’t have waited a few weeks, until I have a bit more time, right? How very disappointing.

In the meantime I did find the time to read a couple of reviews, and despite the usual complaints (why are there always people complaining? is there any evolutionary advantage in that?) I must say it does look pretty attractive, from a functional point of view. Most interesting new feature, to me, seems to be the summing stack — esp. playing layered softsynths as one instrument (and being able to save the stack as a patch) opens up fascinating vistas.

The loss of 32-bit support was clearly inevitable, but still a pity. (I know, I know, we could all have seen this one coming, including the manufacturers. That doesn’t make it hurt less though.)

The Drummer has got me curious; generally I don’t like those AI-kind-of pieces of software that do the thinking for you, but this might somehow be useful (maybe not in this incarnation, but then in a next version), if only from an inspirational point of view. But then, it could be crap as well. I still remember being impressed by Band In A Box in the early nineties on my Atari Mega ST2, only to conclude not that much later that it was a useless toy (for me at least) (and heck, it still exists today! Who would have thought.). Anyway, I’m digressing: Drummer might be the next BiB, or it might be useful fun. Time will tell.

So… I guess in due time we’ll all have to upgrade to Logic Pro X then. In the AppStore for 180 euros, no upgrade policy. Again a reason for some to <yawn> complain and whine and blame Apple for being greedy. A bit of perspective: my first Logic Platinum (long before Emagic was bought by Apple) cost around 2000 Dutch guilders, give or take… And then the upgrades… and upgrades… and when Apple took over the price dropped to 500 and now 180 euros. In that context 180 euros is dirt-cheap, and not having an even cheaper upgrade path for existing users shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The future is looking bright for those of us into DAWs and music-making. And yes, much could have been improved or fixed which hasn’t, but the same holds for any piece of software. As we all know. If we’ve lived long enough with computers. Like I have. Amen.

Math webquests back online

Mere days after I took the old site offline, I got a request from an old colleague to please put the webquests back online. These are webquests for highschool math students, in Dutch, and they’re quite old by now (and look ugly as hell). I was amazed they were still in demand, so naturally I complied, and put them back online, with their own subdomain. Have fun.

From the old to the new world

The old site was taken offline two days ago. I changed hosting company. I tried to run a somewhat obscure CMS (don’t ask), gave up, installed WordPress 30 minutes ago, and here we are… A new site, no design or theme yet and no contents, but that will all be added in due time. Just be patient, dear visitor.

This first post ought to be dedicated to (well, actually my wife, but that’s too obvious, so excuse me if I opt for a different take on reality) Len Sasso, fellow math-head, composer and audio-geek extraordinaire. We were having an email-chat (for the first time in years actually) and I remarked that I’m the kind of person who records a piece of music, almost finishes it, and then leaves it like that for years, never publishing it. My own analysis was that it’s probably a matter of fear for commitment, or fear for criticism. Coupled with that is my tendency to play around indefinitely with gear and software, postponing the scary moment of actual creation.

Len then wrote something back:

You’re not alone in being torn between doing music and playing with the tools. I remember a video by Robert Henke (Monolake) when Ableton released Max for Live (he was instrumental in making that happen) in which he said (as best I remember) that he used to spend hours and days building these enormous Max patches and then using them once, if that, but that now he builds little utilities when he needs them and gets back to the music as soon as possible.

And somehow this innocent remark got under my skin and made me realise that something should be done, period. As things go, it all led to the destruction of the old Omega Art site, a switch to a better hosting service and now the start of a new website.

And for the cynical amongst you: yes, I still haven’t published a piece of music. But at least the start of an outlet is there. All will come, in due time. Have faith and have patience.