Previously mentioned rescue attempts from half-finished limbo mean that this sort of thing is back on the menu:


I will, at some point, attempt to explain this. But probably not until the work is, one way or another, out of intensive care.

Fear of Vocals

Since I seem to be trying to keep the old place ticking over without actually having much of immediate relevance to report, here instead is some more old rope.

Some of it is ropey indeed, but there are also tracks that in retrospect I rather like, ridiculous accents and all. YMMV, of course.

Otherwise, what have you missed? Jean Michel Jarre. Isle of Wight. Cirque Eloize. Provence. Not all since the last post, obviously. Chronology is for wimps.

Miss Kiss Deferment

Among the many things mentioned en passant in my recent cri de cœur on the matter of tweeting vs getting stuff done was apps, to wit: the writing of. Were there more than, to a very good first order approximation, zero (0) people who pay attention to this matter, it would not have escaped their imaginary attention that the currently extant FX trio have not seen updates since January, and the Coming Soon tag on the Osculatrix page was ringing so hollow I had to replace it with this:


To be honest, even that may be a touch optimistic.

App development has certainly been amongst the collateral damage from 2016, the International Year of the Lemming, but a number of other factors have also conspired against it.

Some of these are technological. In particular, the introduction of Audio Unit Extensions in iOS 9 last autumn added a whole new set of infrastructure that would require substantial rewriting to support. Adoption of this tech by app makers in general was pretty glacial for the first year or so, partly because the documentation was rubbish and the process entailed a lot of groping around, but also I suspect because it’s just a bit galling to have to do a whole bunch o’ stuff just to stay more or less in the same place. Arguments about the user benefits of AUX continue. The more vocal proponents insist they’re transformative and essential, but the evidence so far has been pretty thin. Of course this is partly a self-fulfilling consequence of the slow take up, so whatever. But as an app developer it just adds to the already plentiful hoops you have to jump through to get another tick for the checklist on the side of the virtual box.

☑ High Protein!
☑ Low Carb!
☑ Gluten Free!
☑ Audio Unit support!

In any case, adoption is finally increasing and it’s getting harder and harder to avoid. But it’s a bloody nuisance and no mistake.

This is somewhat compounded by a parallel version shift in one of the frameworks I use, Michael Tyson’s The Amazing Audio Engine. (Mike’s a splendid fellow, but his library naming leaves something to be desired.) Version 1 of TAAE doesn’t easily interoperate with the AUX rewiring. Its newfangled successor, TAAE2, apparently does, but in the process completely throws out a number of the old system’s benefits and seems to be primarily targeting people doing rather different stuff than me; fair enough, there are probably more of them, but it makes the task of porting to the new version yet another tranche of unappealing work for no rewards that are visible above the waterline.

The Red Queen looms as a constant presence over iOS app development.

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Anyway, that’s mere technology. More significant obstacles for much of the year involved my actual for-real job, in particular the shepherding of a final paper to publication before my contract expired at the end of July, plus some stuff on spatialisation of the model which is currently languishing in half-finished limbo. And, subsequent to said contract expiry, ongoing attempts to rescue from similar half-finished limbo a bit of languishing work from my previous postdoc that seemed promising at the time.

In other words: sorry about the delays, I’ve had things on my plate.

And yet.

All of these excuses are kind of secondary. The principal reason Osculatrix hasn’t seen the light of day is simple: it’s a synth and I’m not happy enough with how it sounds. It’s not terrible or anything, it just isn’t very interesting. It was maybe 75% finished, at least in terms of sound generation — there were some remaining decisions about the controls — back in May. Then Moog released their lush modular emulation Model 15, and I basically threw in the towel right there.

Don’t get me wrong, Osculatrix is not at all the same kind of thing as Model 15. It’s not attempting to replicate anything, it’s not modular or virtual analogue, it makes weird noises via the same sort of cryptic parameters as Frobulator and friends. It’s not the sort of thing for which you’d pay the twenty quid or so that Moog charge for their hulking skeuomorph. These apps are not in any meaningful sense competitors.

But jumping between Model 15’s oversampled velvety richness and Osc’s grumpy abrasion I sort of felt like, oh what’s the point? As an app it just seemed superfluous. The parts I was interested in doing were done, the experiment run, the rest was tiresome drudgery to get it in the hands of people who would have more fun with the Moog app, or the wonderful Mitosynth, or Magellan or iSEM or any of countless others. There’s no shortage of synths on the App Store.

And that’s where the whole thing stands right now. Backburnered. In turnaround. On the shelf. Cryogenically frozen. Never to be revived? Only time will tell.

Of course, Osculatrix isn’t the only app in town. Maybe something else will make it out of the WT gravity well. But that’s another story for another, possibly very distant, day. Meanwhile, it’s a lesson learned in gun jumping.


If you are seeing this text, it’s because your browser is not able to display the specified canvas element. Rest assured you aren’t missing much.

“What the merry fuck,” you may well ask, “is this?” Just testing, is all.

And failing on the index page, which is a bit tiresome.

Okay, seem to have got it working, albeit in a thoroughly unsatisfactory way. It appears that only global scripts and styles get added to the head on index posts, at least with the Scripts N Styles plugin. Which is clearly wrong — why would you ever want the things you put in a post to break in the index? — but there you go. Perhaps a better way will become apparent on further investigation…

Social Anxiety

It’s becoming increasingly clear that I need to get the hell off social media. That’s sort of a perverse thing to declare in a blog post, but it’s a long time since WT could be reasonably described as ‘social’, and indeed the very notion of social media has changed beyond recognition in the interim. When we talk about it now, what we really mean is Facebook and — overwhelmingly — Twitter.

Ah, Twitter. That simple little ‘microblogging platform’. Convenience conveyor of outrage morsels to the ever-ravenous masses. Who would have guessed, when it launched back in 2006, or even in 2009 when I finally capitulated and posted my first ambivalent tweet, just what it would become?

Perhaps everyone, at some level. Perhaps we all got exactly what we always wanted.

In any case, here we are. The perpetual emotion machine perpetually emotes. The unceasing, unstoppable global cacophony of Pavlovian bells chimes and chimes and we cringing Quasimodos grunt and drool. We tailor our perfect personal Morse code-sparking electrode and wire it into the emotional centres of our brain, delivering a stream of tiny shocks just incrementally powerful enough to maintain that sense of entrenched helpless rage, perfectly balanced on the critical edge of disgust and impotence.

Evidently, not everyone is as susceptible to this as I am. Although the general drift of politics and culture lately strongly suggests that enough people are for it to be a significant problem. Will Twitter actually be the thing that finally immanentises the eschaton? Who knows. It at least seems to be in with a chance.

I made my escape years ago, weary of the bottomless aggravation and just the sheer amount of time and emotional energy it takes to be constantly furious about things you have absolutely no influence over anyway. The release of resources was invigorating — I could read books instead of soundbites, write apps instead of peevish, unfunny one-liners.

But, of course, the respite was only temporary. As respites always are. The awful unbearable momentum of 2016, the enervating saturation of utter fucking woe, herded me back into the quagmire. That my return coincided with the depth-plumbing, barrel-scraping shitbaggery of the EU referendum was, well, no coincidence. Just one more reason to hate and despise and wish eternal unendurable agonies onto the fucking Brexiteers, the way they made it seem imperative to pay attention to their relentless malfeasance. The laughable, nauseating, tear-jerking dark heart of it. The horror. The horror.

So, back I went. And have spent the last six months in a state of diffuse despair and ambient anxiety. Unable to stop watching the dismal succession of slow-motion disasters, train wreck upon plane crash upon supertanker collision, one after another. Angry, frustrated, unable actually to concentrate or get things done because what is the fucking point anyway?

Just read another tweet, another live blog, another poisonous troll comment crowing about the dismantling of modernity. Another headline, another traducement, another barefaced opportunistic lie that frogmarches the famous tolerant open democracy we’re always so proud of towards fascism.

England Prevails.

It gets worse. It gets worse. It just keeps getting worse, and there seems absolutely no prospect of that trend abating. (Yeah, Hillary will probably win in the US, but it’s already too late to stop that country’s political discourse getting dragged into the sewer too. Lap it up, cucks!)

So, time to back the fuck off. Step away from the firehose. Ignorance is bliss. This unremitting angst is purposeless, ineffective. Forget it and do something else instead. Maybe there is nothing I can achieve with the rescued time that has any merit either — what does, objectively? — but I hope it’ll at least be more fun.