Sunday, May 19, 2024

Argus v1.34

Woke late, then another long work day improving Argus. One thing I wanted to do was improve the wide-screen support, so I divided up the skins into two, and made the sequencer automatically stretch to match the screen width, up to a maximum on 1280 pixels wide (double the current maximum). This wasn't difficult. I also created a new layout if the screen is wide enough:

Then, a trip to town with Deb, to show her my mural for the first time. I met David Jewkes there, his is nearly complete.

After that, more work fixing little things in Argus, updates to the settings and documenting the Config.txt options (have just realised that it's not called Options.txt as in all of my other programs!)

I had hoped to write and play and practice the new song for the Dylan night, but I'm unhappy with it and seem to lack energy to run at it. The words seem uninspiring to me somehow, perhaps because they are an imagined portrait, or perhaps because the poetry is difficult to fit into a song somehow. I'm also dangerously short of time. I must work on this tomorrow.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Argus v1.33

A big update to Argus today. the live-record options didn't work correctly, and were over complicated.

The principle is simple and was part of the initial idea of Argus; to make a 3D system like a game, where you can move objects around like game characters, but record the whole scene like a video, making animation as fast as possible. To get it working before you had to pick an object, hit record, hit another key to make the cursor appear, hit play, then life click and drag to animate your object. I've simplified it a number of steps today, and added more. Now you can do that, but also click when the film is paused to place an object, and the appearance of the cursor and recording are linked.

The record feature was part of the initial idea, but I've never used it, which is why it wasn't streamlined. It's there, but in practice, I find I'm using modulators to move everything. I also fixed and tidied up lots of other things, such as fixing Alt-Tab, which never worked - that doesn't matter when I'm using it because I neve Alt-Tab, but for a commercial or professional piece of work, this sort of thing is important.

So, three full days of work on Argus. One problem with it all is that my monitor is 3:4 in a world where over 90% of screens are 16:9. This means the layout itself isn't quite right. This is the reason I don't like MuseScore 4, that's optimised for 16:9 screens so won't neatly work or fit on my screen. I need to get Argus working neatly on both types of screen. This isn't easy because Windows and/or my graphics driver, due to bad design, don't like changing screen modes. You might think it's easy, but just trying to make it switch and remember a setting doesn't work properly.


Anyway. I must set this aside and charge into music. I've written my words for a new song for Wednesday's Dylan night, but need to write and practice the music. I hope to collaborate on a live performance on Cat Covid too in time for the next Red Cow night.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Argus Manual

A full day's work on the Argus Manual, which is now at 10,517 words, though I'm getting exasperated at the slowness of the process, and at new-found bugs in the real-time placement of objects.

One of the key ideas in Argus was real-time recording of the movements and positions of 3D objects, but this far too complicated and exacting. I need to reprogram and fix things tomorrow.

I could call the manual finished. For a free, massively specialist, and (I fear!) destined to be unpopular, tool it doesn't have to be the world's best manual... but I find cutting corners so very difficult. I'll try to move to finish it.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Tuesdays On Wednesday, Bull Dream, Argus Manual

A lovely night all round yesterday. Everyone performed well and the atmosphere in the room was full of warmth and pleasure. There were plenty of performances with gusto, and several which were touching. As soon as June Holland sings though, she does somehow blast the rest of the line-up out of the metaphorical water. Quite stunning. I wish Andy Stubbs could be there. Deb performed Clown Face and Dead Hand brilliantly and I was happy with my performances too, a step better than before.

It was a late night and I woke later after a disturbed night of sweats and a nightmare about a loose bull in a street. I was in some sort of library, in a futuristic town of cobbled streets. The new building had a leaky roof, and was empty, I was somehow early, before it became busy. I can't recall seeing other people I knew in the dream.

I launched a new Flatspace IIk Music Bundle today, and spent most of the afternoon and evening working on the Argus Manual. I have plans but feel uncertain and a little directionless... perhaps too many options.

I'm a little unsure of The Mark Sheeky Show, as an idea of surrealistic arty shorts. Should I call it something else? Once I use my name I can't rebrand later. I had a second idea of an indie music showcase instead, like a micro version of The Tube. Or should that be 'as well', instead of 'instead'. Options options!

I wrote 4000 to 6000 words on the manual. It's a lot harder work than expected, perhaps I should set a time budget, as do not expect success from it, based on recent software forays. I'm charging at many things, not to swim ahead but to avoid drowning.

More Argus tomorrow. I must move onwards quickly and efficiently.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Steps, AI Music

Every achievement is a step to be crushed while moving on to a better one.

Slow going today. Sent out a few emails about 'Cat Covid!', and read about the rise of AI music which will probably swamp all non-AI music within a decade; a huge transformation. This affects all arts, and all creativity, almost everything I do. What is the answer? Running to smaller and smaller areas where AI cannot penetrate. AI may oil paint one day, although this is one of the most complex of skills, oil is so very delicate and sensitive. AI can't interact with real people in daily situations - but then nor can I.

The effects on music will be considerable, and have dampened my optimism for music promotion today, but made me rethink about art for the better. Art must be, at all times, human.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Argus Graphics, 5 Year Ramble

The day has flown. I've worked for a few hours on draft graphics for the Argus release. With everything I feel I'm rushed to an uncomfortable limit, perhaps this is normal now.

I need a manual for it, and a basic video trailer. Given the recent Steam releases, I'm pessimistic about it as a commercial product, but I still find it amazingly useful, and perhaps others will too. Of course, I find SFXEngine invaluable too.

The prime minister today warns us of great and threatening changes over the next 5 years (despite, incidentally, his party's calamitous mismanagement of the past 5 years, not least an economy contracted by 15% due to an uncontrolled and foolish Brexit; which, also incidentally, the equally bad Labour Party is happy to never mention, presumably due to the shame of being complicit). The world certainly feels like it's in a state of great change; due to the rise of AI, the rise of 'far-right' (individualistic vs. social forces) due to uncontrolled immigration and the lack of media controls for internet media (learning no lessons from the same lack of controls over the news media 100 years ago), and climate change.

Of course, life will go on after those 5 years. I remain constantly anxious about the future, though also excited and optimistic for unknown reasons. Perhaps I've become naturally optimistic after a life of pessimism. Perhaps it's a case of nothing left to lose, a triumph of stoicism, the end of a satisfying decade or two lived to the best of my ability. But I have so much I want to do, so much I can do for the world. Oh for a few more resources! A morsal of stability would transform me. This year, the next 5 years, will be a great struggle. It will not stop me working on art every day, creating every wonder I can to the best of my ability. The spectre of death is, as ever, my motivation.

This week, more work on the 'Cat Covid!' release. This morning I created a Flatspace edit of the song.

Onwards we charge.

Sunday, May 12, 2024


Slower day. I completed the preparations for the sheet music release, and assembled the Spotify Canvases. I dislike Spotify. They don't pay artists enough, seeing them as a free source of money rather than partners; an understandable view given the quantity of artists, but I can't see myself always listing must there. The same goes for my distributor Distrokid, who has close ties with Spotify. When I listed music with Emubands, my royalties were considerably higher, with considerably fewer plays. I have over 30 published albums, so any decision here will be important and strategic, something for the long term.

Much of today was spent rehearsing for the 'Tuesdays on Wednesday' performance this Wednesday. I had thought ab out performing a somewhat off-piste version of Incomplete Version, but I'll perform 'Cat Parasites' instead, plus 'Excessive Consumption Has Laxative effects'.

Slower the day may have been but I've still worked for all of it.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

More Music Admin, Chaplin, Hopes and Beams

More time consuming album admin today. Scheduled the album for release, registered the technical music details for the album and single with the 4 major authorities, uploaded and queued the 13 lyric-reading videos, and prepared the Bandcamp release. I still have edits and tracks to create for the Flatspace pack, assemble the Spotify Canvases, and create any music videos. It can feel like a never-ending task but I've done this all day every day for a mere two weeks, which is the complete maximum I could manage.

I briefly watched a Rick Beato video about how he makes his YouTube programmes. He has a substantial team, from help with camera operation, to sound clips, to editing, to branding and stills graphics, and more. It's amazing that I do almost the same amount of work alone - apart from, that is, running a regular television programme! Is it valid to call a YouTube video a television programme? I think so.

I watched a bit of Charlie Chaplin's The Circus. I've never seen a Chaplin film before (well, apart from the occasional short). It made me think that silent films were a huge, global cultural phenomenon, unique in style, that vanished as quickly as it appeared. I wonder if TikTok videos and Memes are similar, and that they will be as ignored by archivists as most of those, now lost, silent films.

Deb and I had a lovely night at a new Open Mic event last night at the wonderful Hopes & Beams centre in Crewe. This one was focused on spoken word rather than music, of poetry and short stories, and two extracts from plays were performed too. These are every month. If we attended there, and the two-weekly events in Nantwich, those social occasions may negate the need for The Mark Sheeky Show... but of course all have slightly different circles. I must be careful not to overstretch myself.

Two performances are coming; a paid version of 'Tuesdays' next Wednesday, for which I must rehearse well, and the Bob Dylan themed night the following Wednesday, which needs new material. I've completed much of the work on this album now, so can give some time to those.