The blog of roncli blog
Houston, Texas, United States
CTG Music
Trax in Space Beta
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Friday, July 27, 2007
CTG down till at least mid-August
Posted: 12:19:00 PM 0 comments

Redheat over at Trax in Space reports that will be offline until at least mid-August. While no data loss is expected, the task of repairing the site is going to take time. No word on where the hosting is going to be, or whether anything is going to change on the site due to the new host.


Module Sixteen Remade
Posted: 3:13:00 AM 0 comments
I finally completed the Reason & Sonar remake of Module Sixteen. Check it out on OSM, TiS, and of course TNS.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007
Posted: 7:16:00 PM 0 comments
Today, I discovered an application by the name of winLAME. It's a free WAV to MP3 converter using the LAME engine, and it's got to be among the best interfaces I've used for creating MP3's. Best part is, they sound great, too. All of my releases from here on out will use this encoder, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others, either. Need an MP3 converter? Check it out.

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Let the Inspiration Flow
Posted: 7:11:00 PM 0 comments
I don't know what it is with my music lately, but there's been no shortage of inspiration. Not only have I been able to start new projects, but I've actually been able to finish some old ones. A quick run down of things I'm working on musically.

New Zepsi Industries - This has been released over at Trax in Space.
TNS Raw Music Disk - This is almost ready. I've gone back and did a small amount of post-production, mainly to up the volume of it. It's just about ready to be released, but I want to transcribe the whole thing, which takes a considerable amount of time.
Module Sixteen - This is a Reason remake of my already completed track by the same name. After some excellent advice from slammy, I'm doing the final run down of the production, and am probably going to release it shortly after this post.
Analyze - A light industrial tune intended for vocals. It remains to be seen if I do the vocals at night, or if I wait on getting gear together and finding a room to rent to do the recording in.
Reject - slammy sent me a rejected bit from his epic, A Bridged Divide, and we've been playing with it since. He's threatened to send it to m0d, which, if he climbs aboard, would make my fourth 3-way co-op. Pretty neat.

I like this inspiration, and I don't want it to end. Best of all is that it hasn't really taken much time away from other things I do, so I'm really getting a lot done in this department. It's been a long time since the inspiration's been flowing like this, and I intend to take full advantage of it.

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Evans Blue at Best Buy
Posted: 2:45:00 PM 0 comments
So Evans Blue came to the Best Buy next door to me on Tuesday to perform a 4 song set. I really like their music, so I stopped by.

Acoustical performances can be hit or miss. The acoustical instrumentation was really nice, especially for Cold, although it was difficult to hear the lead singer at times because the setting was not ideal for a performance like that. However, it was very enjoyable. The purpose was for their CD release. Of course they were trying to get you to buy it, but it wasn't like it was pushed down your throat. There were no annoying salesmen or radio personalities there to try to get you to do silly things for prizes. I literally walked across the street, into Best Buy, listened to the performance, and walked out happy.

Never had a band do something like that in my area before, it was really nice to be able to get out and enjoy music so close to home, and for such an affordable (free!) price. Can't beat that.

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Trax in Space Open Beta
Posted: 2:34:00 PM 0 comments
Trax in Space is once again open to the masses! They have removed the beta keys, and anyone can now sign up. A few things you'll want to check out:

- My artist page, of course. :) All of my recent work is there, including the TiS exclusive Cent Credits... although if you are creative enough, you've already found it.
- Forums!
- The ever-controversial Charts.
- Finally, here is a Playlist of songs that are, in my opinion, the best of Trax in Space thus far. I'm constantly adding to it as I listen to more songs.

For those that are missing CTG, I strongly recommend Trax in Space as an alternative. It is constantly growing and improving.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Evans Blue
Posted: 4:20:00 PM 0 comments
I normally don't get interested in things like this, but when Evans Blue decides not only to come to Houston, but to put on a live acoustic performance at the Best Buy that's literally right next door to me, I admit to being curious. So, if all goes well this evening, I'm probably going to stop by and give them a listen. I really like a lot of their stuff, and given this is a rather unique opportunity, why not?

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MadTracker, CTGMusic down
Posted: 4:17:00 PM 0 comments
It looks like Yannick's hosting got skewered, resulting in major scene sites MadTracker and Cute Trance Girls being offline for at least a day now. Latest word is that Yannick is trying to find a hosting provider.

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Friday, July 20, 2007
Changing app.config on the fly
Posted: 1:35:00 PM 0 comments
After banging my head against the wall several times trying to insert a dynamic ConnectionString into my app.config, I figured it out. It's nowhere near obvious, though. Import System.Configuration to get it functional. Here's an example of how to modify the connectionStrings section.

' Load configuration
Dim cfgConfig As Configuration = ConfigurationManager.OpenExeConfiguration(ConfigurationUserLevel.None)

' Gotta try to remove it first, if it exists you'll crash out.
Catch ex As Exception
End Try

' Add new connection
cfgConfig.ConnectionStrings.ConnectionStrings.Add(new ConnectionString("conn", strConnString, strProvider)

' Save the file

' Force the application to refresh this section from the file at runtime.

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New Zepsi Industries
Posted: 12:13:00 PM 0 comments
For those familiar with #modarchive Story, you will remember the original music in module format that was featured in the game. Well, a while back I had taken Zepsi's "Zepsi Industries" and remade it in Reason. Today, I finally got around to getting his permission to release it, and there you have it, my 60th release!

So, be sure to check out New Zepsi Industries.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Posted: 3:37:00 AM 0 comments
I've been talking a lot about sites that contain music. It's high time that I did something about my music!

As an experiment, I'm working on a production for Outpost Music called "TNS Raw". The idea is simple. I've setup my guitar and microphone, and I perform, talking about my music as I go. One take is the goal, although I don't necessarily achieve that all the time. You can hear how bad my guitar playing is, how my voice warps when I try to go to the high end of my range without waking up the neighbors, but most of all you can hear the raw emotion that goes into each and every composition, which is the main point of this production. It was originally supposed to be a set of three songs, narrated with the inspiration and some additional information related to each song. I ended up doing 4 and a half, covering over an hour of listen time with me babbling on in between.

As I said, this is an experiment. Not only is the music emotional, the commentary is as well. It is something that's either going to be widely popular, or just shrugged off. Either way, it's something I am enjoying putting together, and will most likely have ready within the next day or two.

As a teaser, here's a track list:

  1. The Nightstalker

  2. The Editor, Introduction

  3. The Editor

  4. The Editor, Thoughts

  5. Everytime, Introduction

  6. Everytime

  7. Everytime, Thoughts

  8. Eternally, Introduction

  9. Eternally

  10. Eternally, Thoughts

  11. Decade, Introduction

  12. Decade

  13. Decade, Thoughts

  14. Babbling

  15. Links

  16. Greetz

  17. You (Preview), Introduction

  18. You (Preview)

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Monday, July 16, 2007
TiS Beta updates
Posted: 4:54:00 PM 0 comments
Trax in Space released a whole slew of new features recently. Discussions is the primary one, although it took me half an hour to figure out exactly where the discussions were. Turns out that my cache was in full gear, and the old, wide graphics were wrapping the discussions down to a second row, which was conveniently hidden underneath the main panel of each page.

Now you can comment on playlists, discuss songs by attaching them to forum posts, see your play stats and the play stats of others, see what your friends rated a song in relation to you and others, and of note the charts seem to have been tweaked yet again. They are still mainly based on downloads, and I can't seem to get through to Saurin that this is a Bad Thing. I've been arguing with him, and I can already see that it's a losing battle cause he's made up his mind and he's not changing it. Never mind that every site that has had downloads or plays as the primary basis of its charts has had charts that take the person that can promote themselves the most and put them at the top.

I thought that was a lesson learned from TiS1. I guess not.

In any case, Trax in Space is starting to develop its community again, which is good to see. #traxinspace over on EsperNet is starting to fill up with idlers, which is a good sign. I predicted there would be 1,000 songs by the end of July, and there are currently 845. That's 155 songs in 15 days, I'm not sure if the site can finish with that kind of ferocity, but we'll see.

Overall, things are looking up. I wish I could get into reviewing like I had for TiS1, but with my time being as limited as it is and not getting any better, I'll settle for the occasional review.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007
More TiS Beta News
Posted: 5:45:00 AM 0 comments
So now that I've bored everyone with a sappy entry, I figured it's all due time for a Trax in Space beta update.

- The charts are practically in ruins, twice as useless as the old Trax in Space charts. If you want music from Trax in Space that's interesting to you, find yourself some friends on TiS and check out their playlists. I'm currently running one that contains some of the best songs on Trax in Space. Don't rely on the charts. Hopefully they will change.

- Bugs have been fixed massively. No longer is it every day I log in and report 5 or 6 bugs, perhaps one every few days now.

- Forums, I have heard, are in beta testing, and should be out by the end of the week.

- A new take on reviewer credibility is also being tested. I'm told that's slated for the end of the week, but knowing who's coding them ;) I'd give a working version until the following weekend.

- Music and reviews can now be filtered to "My friends" (Yay! No more midgets or sacks for me!), "My extended friends" (Sadly, there are midgets and sacks there. Apparently what passes for music for some ain't much.), and "All users".

- There has been talk of creating an Artist Advisory Council, where some artists are chosen to represent the artist base in guiding Trax in Space's development future.

- Finally, on the "artists on CRAQ" side of things, a recent change in Trax in Space's "Terms of Service" apparently sparked a bout of paranoia, resulting in at least two artists removing their catalog of music. <sarcasm type="dry"> Yes, thank you for being so bloody paranoid to the point of assuming people are untrustworthy by nature (Hmm, perhaps the first bit of the last post applies here?), and erasing the hard work of people who listened, playlisted, commented, and reviewed your song. Way to go! </sarcasm> Seriously, people. For the love of Chick-Fil-A sweet tea, settle down. Saurin's not out to steal your music. To even think that is so far removed from the point of Trax in Space it borders lunacy.


Starting Over
Posted: 5:43:00 AM 0 comments
I get curious. Sometimes too curious.

In the past, too much curiosity has cost me ways. Looking back on one event in particular, I probably seemed like a stalking freak or something. People just aren't trustworthy enough to take someone at face value. Which is fine, because there are a lot of people out there that AREN'T like me, and really are stalking freaks. It's when I forget that fact that I tend to take things too far, and end up looking desperate and foolish. You live, you learn.

So when I got curious today, I happened to stumble upon a series of webpages by someone I knew over ten years ago. From the limited pages that I have read, she hasn't changed much at all, either. But with things as they are, would it be too awkward to say just hi? How do you say hi to someone you don't know anymore, and haven't spoken to in years?

When I was in Buffalo this past April to attend my grandfather's funeral, I ran into someone who was a mutual friend of myself and the aforementioned. She asked me if I kept in touch with anyone. And I haven't, but that made me think a bit. In many ways I miss the friendships I had, but so many of them were superficial. I had had it with people who wouldn't let me be me. When I moved to Houston, it was a chance for me to start over, and six months in, I finally gave myself an opportunity to find myself, and over the past eight years I have really succeeded. I didn't *need* to re-establish any friendships from Buffalo. In fact, the last time I talked to anyone I knew from there who wasn't family or in some way connected to my family was... well, you can read the result of that on a rather prominent page of my main website. (By the way, the links on that page are broken. Get the music off of instead. I'll fix them someday.)

This friendship, however, was genuine. An artist, like myself. Interested in many of the things I was. We were young, foolish, and certainly not made for each other in a romantic way, but boy did we learn that pretty fast. Time healed, and a solid friendship was born, nothing more than it was ever meant to be. In retrospect, this friendship was a good five years ahead of its time, I can't recall any other friendship like that in my time in Buffalo. I will never forget one of the last times I saw her, if it wasn't THE last time. She left me speechless telling me how our friendship had changed her life for the better.

And what has it become? Just another friend from high school that I've decided to part ways with, just so I could start over.

How CAN I say hi?

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Monday, July 02, 2007
Gaming the System
Posted: 10:49:00 AM 0 comments
Perhaps Trax in Space's first major failure was revealed yesterday when for the first time in six years TiS generated a new set of charts.

xerxes's "emmy" debuted at number one. Having listened to the song, it is very deserving of the spot, although I think this one got some extra attention and perhaps a couple of extra stars out of the fact that, well, it's xerxes. Still, though, a great musician, and I'm not going to argue over that.

Number two, however, was a gag song (classified as rock instead of humor) that, well, maybe some people find funny, but many musicians are serious about what they do, and to find that such a ridiculous song so high in the charts is disturbing.

How is it possible that something so bad can climb so high on to the charts? What's happening here is known as "gaming the system". Basically, a bunch of people get together to manipulate the formulas used for the charts by giving it high ratings and reviews, usually in protest of something, or perhaps as an attempt to prove a point. It's difficult to peg the reason why this happens, but when you attract a large enough audience like Trax in Space does, something like this is bound to happen, and websites have to eventually deal with this.

Thus far, it doesn't look like Trax in Space is capable of dealing with this.

Granted, the site is young. The song in question had two ratings (a 1 and either a 4 or a 5) and a 5-star review that clearly exists for the sole purpose of gaming the system. The review did not have any feedback on it, neither from the artist nor other users who wished to agree or disagree with the review. There just wasn't enough data to provide the charts with accurate information that would have placed this song more appropriately, like off the list entirely.

But on the flip side, more people can come along to game the system even further by providing more empty 5-star reviews and ratings. Trax in Space needs a better way to handle this type of abuse, and hopefully they will come up with something soon.