The Null Device


"Girl" is a very odd name for an audio synthesis program, but the description sounds pretty doovy. Basically it's a modular sample-based synthesizer/mixer of sorts, which can apparently work standalone or as a VST plug-in, and can be controlled in realtime using the keyboard or 2D 'plane controllers'; which brings to mind all sorts of glitchy loop-based laptop mayhem. The demo MP3s on the site also sound quite promising, in a What Is Music? sort of way. Though whether it's worth the A$200 or so it'd cost to register it remains to be determined.

computer music mac softsynths software vst 0

Primatology imitates William S. Burroughs: monkeys get high on millipede juice. No mention of mugwumps though. (via


Film festival: Today I saw a documentary titled Fortress Australia, about Australian governments' (unsuccessful) attempts to obtain, or later construct, nuclear weapons between 1945 and the early 1970s. It was quite interesting; basically, we tried to buy nukes or knowledge from the British (who refused, because the Americans would get mad at them) and the U.S. (who refused because of Soviet spy activity in Canberra), in return for uranium and use of land for nuclear testing, and also sank a lot of money into F-111 bombers (next to useless against the much feared Indonesian invasion unless equipped with nukes) and developing missiles with the UK, who unilaterally canned the project before their obedient client state could get its eagerly anticipated ICBMs. Also, the Lucas Heights reactor, and one proposed for Jervis Bay, were intended to produce weapons-grade plutonium for tactical nukes for jungle warfare. Quite eye-opening.

There was also another documentary, about the author of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, and his definitions of what SF is. There wasn't much new to me in it, but I did recognise a lot of the locations in it (including Slow Glass Books, Monash University, and various places around Melbourne).


My favourite image viewer program is xv. A lot lighter than the GIMP, and is snappier and quicker to use than newer programs with "user-friendly" GNOME/KDE-compliant menus to navigate. xv is an X program of the old school; you use the 3 mouse buttons God gave you to call up windows and select, and pressing keys does convenient things (i.e., space goes to the next image, 'e' opens the colour editor). No GNOME integration, themeability (though it has a curious MacOS-6-lite look to its widgets), plug-ins or anything else.

Oh, and it's somewhat of a dinosaur. The last version was apparently released in 1994, and there's currently no Debian package for it (perhaps because they figured that everybody should get over it and move on to Electric Eyes or something). Even the page itself looks like a historical relic, with NCSA Mosaic-era HTML, floppy-disk-shaped icons ("daddy, what's that?") and a compress(1)-ed source archives for the people who don't have the new-fangled gzip program. But still, it does the job and does a better job for its humble task than more recent programs.

Mind you, this is coming from someone whose desktop consists of a window manager, an xterm window and xclock. (Yes, I've tried GNOME and KDE; though I found that they just got in the way.)