The Null Device
My most recent softsynth discovery is QuadraSID; this is a VST/AU softsynth which emulates, as the name suggests, 4 SID chips (and emulates them quite thoroughly, down to letting you choose the chip model and whether you want bugs to be emulated accurately or fixed), along with enhancements such as external envelopes, arpeggios and a mini-sequencer. It comes with a batch of presets designed by Commodore 64 game composer Chris Hülsbeck (perhaps best known for the Giana Sisters score), and now there is an additional sound bank by Rob Hubbard, which is full of fuzzy, warbly SID goodness. Of course, it's not limited to C64 game-music homages; a stack of SIDs can have its uses, from Broadcast-style lo-fi to fat pads.
The company which makes quadraSID also has some other interesting products, such as Slayer2, a guitar synthesiser based on physical modelling, along with amp and pedal models; it sounds almost like the real thing; not quite as authentic as sample-based systems, though a lot more flexible. The fact that it can turn randomly pressing keys into an over-the-top finger-shredding cock-rock guitar solo of the gods is impressive enough in its own right. (If I ever end up revamping a certain track from my last year's NaSoAlMo album, I may have to invest in a copy of this).
The Melbourne City Council has declared war on the city's status as a stencil-art capital with their new zero-tolerance graffiti plan. Under the plan, building owners will be legally obliged to either remove graffiti (which includes aerosol art or stencil art) or put in applications for each individual piece to remain. And so, the city becomes a little more like Singapore or Giuliani's New York.
Things I didn't know until today: the E-Mu SP-12 drum machine/sampler, which was designed in the 1980s by Roger Linn and whose gritty 12-bit sound became a staple of hip-hop production, was designed to use a Commodore 1541 disk drive for external storage.
This is a 5.25" self contained unit with its own power supply and a serial interface. It was the best choice in 1985, when 3.5" drives had yet to appear, and an internal 5.25" would have taken up too much room. The diskettes are used to stored samples and sequences