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August 31, 07

Santa Claus visits British Airways

After all my travails over missing my digital piano for 46 days, a letter quietly surfaced from British Airways Customer Relations in my mailbox today, containing a very generous check. While it wouldn't have covered the cost of the digital piano if it had remained lost, it's still a greatly appreciated gesture to make up for the hassle of missing my Casio Privia PX-110 for so long. Bravo to British Airways for having the decency to make amends when mistakes are made! I can only hope other airlines are this mindful of this type of customer service (but i won't hold my breath...)

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August 16, 07

Silly little Ubuntustudio/VirtualBox details

Once upon a time (a long time ago), i used to keep my money in 3 or 4 savings and checking accounts. i don't really know why, i suppose it somehow made me feel "richer" to have little portions of money spread over various locations. Tellers would always look at me quizzically when i tried to explain that - well, bottom line, it was a stupid idea that only served to make my life more complicated than necessary. More often than not, simplicity breeds efficiency, and that applies to both money and computers.

After countless reboots, re-partitions and re-installs, i think i'm getting close to a more-or-less ideal Windows XP/Ubuntustudio dual-boot setup. Having two operating systems in one computer is pretty cool - having both operating systems running at the same time is even cooler! That technique is possible due to virtualization, a technology that has been exploding in popularity recently, giving a server or a single user the ability to run multiple operating systems on a single machine. VMWare is the pioneer company for the technology - my personal VM flavor is a nifty free program called VirtualBox by innotek (they seem to like little "i's" as much as me...).

So where does the allusion to simplified money accounts converge with installing multiple operating systems? In the setup of your whole digital enchilada, of course:

1. Keep partitions to a minimum. Partitions are a way of creating separate "drives" within a physical hard drive. In my previous direct installations of Ubuntu, it was necessary to create a separate bootable partition. I went a little partition crazy, splitting my main C drive in half, then chunking up my new 500 GB drive into four bite-sized pieces, thinking that Ubuntu would take 2 and Windows could keep the rest. Thanks to Wubi, the super-simple Ubuntu installer, partitioning is no longer necessary - it creates virtual drives in a single folder. Rather than limit myself to a piece of a drive, i found i could do away with partitions altogether and just install Ubuntustudio to the 500 GB drive straightaway, leaving myself with plenty of room for what i really wanted to do: have Ubuntustudio and Windows XP running simultaneously.

2. Bigger is better. In terms of storage space, of course. The problem i was constantly hitting during my early Ubuntu installation attempts was running out of space for apps and OS, as i tried to squeeze the experimental operating system into tiny spaces, and especially as i tried to set up a new install of Windows XP within Ubuntustudio via VirtualBox. i realized that this new setup would need as much space as possible. No more sharing a cramped C drive apartment - i moved the new OS family as sole occupants of the 500 GB mansion. Again, this is largely thanks to Wubi allowing me to setup Ubuntu without having to create "real" partitions.

3. Don't be greedy: share nicely. VirtualBox gives you the option to custom adjust RAM settings for Windows XP installation/operation. I thought i would be a speed demon and dedicate every drop of RAM for Virtual-Windows, but that only ended up crashing the installation over and over. Splitting the allocation in half allows both Ubuntustudio and V-Windows to play in the RAM sandbox nicely side by side.

4. Be greedy: get pants that fit. i guess my pattern for experiemental OS's is to breed them in tiny test tubes before i realize that they can live and breathe without risk to the host OS. That being said, OS's still need a LOT of space to enjoy the full benefits of space for all the applications you want to load up on. So, a better axiom might be, "Share the RAM, Hog the Drive." In my VirtualBox Hard Drive settings, i opted to give a full half of the 500 GB mansion to V-Windows. Cool thing is that you have the option to allocate the space as either a fixed amount or as a dynamically expanding allocation (the latter being the default and preferred option).


Oh, little tech detail for VirtualBox that had me banging my head for several hours until i came across the solution quite by accident -

VirtualBox captures the mouse and keyboard actions within the virtual OS environment. It gives a hotkey to release the mouse and keyboard (Right-Control), but no matter how many times i pressed it or held it down it would keep them locked within V-Windows. The trick to getting the hotkey release to work correctly is two-fold: first, don't provide the option for V-Windows to recognize the USB keyboard; secondly, after starting the virtual OS up, press the hotkey BEFORE clicking the mouse within the virtual environment - that seems to wake up the option to release.

Why this crazy dual OS setup? To be perfectly honest, i don't really know yet - i want to have a dedicated video editing computer, so i need the Windows XP OS to run Vegas 6; i'm really intruiged with free MIDI sequencer apps like Rosegarden for Linux, so i'm thinking of using programs like this to be able to edit digital piano recordings. Those seem to be the two primary reasons for the multi OS setup, though i want to get more into the open source graphics programs like Blender and Inkscape eventually, as well as a deeper exploration of the multitude of Linux audio apps ("FREE" is a very attractive word for me these days, hence the serious look at the open source offerings). One machine, two operating systems, consolitation of multimedia production - yeah, i'm a walking oxymoron when it comes to so-called "simplicity" (sigh...)

www.hughsung.com www.hughsung.com/blog Hugh Sung http://hughsung.com http://hughsung.com/blog

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August 14, 07

MMT#37- Mad Cow Festival Visual Recital Workshop

Partnering with the Notes at 9,000 Emerging Artist Series, we developed a pilot Visual Recital Workshop for the 2007 Mad Cow Festival, where amateur artists created mixed media visuals for synchronized live performance to the music of Debussy. I collaborated with winners of the Emerging Artist Series competition in a fantastic concert combining dance, music, and visuals in a format that one listener proclaimed as "the future of live classical concerts!" With the Visual Recital Workshop, the audience member is immersed in the performance and plays a vital participatory role as co-creator with the musician. Many thanks to SoYoung Lee, Amy J. Clark, Charmain Schuh, and the creative team at The Dairy for this innovative approach to the live concert experience! Here's the video storyboard:



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August 13, 07

Doh! My Springfield Alter-Ego

I'm not a big Simpsons' fan, and don't really have a burning desire to see the new movie, but i couldn't resist the marketing ploy from Burger King that enables you to create a "Simpsonized" version of your photo! Got this idea like a good lemming from Michael over at his MMusing blog...better watch out before i start developing an appetite for doooooohhhnuts.....

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August 11, 07

V-Day Post Op Report

My first attempt at V-day actually took place three years ago. i visited one of my wife's colleagues for an initial consultation and description of the procedure. Funny how i somehow managed to "forget" to schedule the actual operation afterwards...i guess the descriptions of cutting and cauterizing have a peculiar amnesiac effect on me...

This time around, Kyungmi managed a bit of professional arm-twisting to cajole another colleague to fit me into his otherwise jam-packed schedule. My preference was to be admitted to the hospital for the procedure - i wanted to be completely knocked out with general anesthesia. Unfortunately, no beds were available within the given time frame, so we had to stick with the outpatient office option, where Valium would be administered along with much hand-holding and local anesthetics.

As we walked into the office yesterday morning, the receptionists were quick to point out how obvious our motives were from the "deer in headlights" look in my face and the gleeful salsa dance that propelled my wife behind me! As we sat in the waiting room, Kyungmi asked if i could have the Valium administered right away to save time. A look of shock passed across the nurse's face - hadn't i already taken one? Evidently i hadn't read the pre-op instructions carefully and - uh - "forgot" about getting the Valium prescription filled, which i was supposed to have taken an hour before the procedure. The nurse shook her head in doubt, explaining that the doctor was pretty strict about requiring Valium and that we'd most likely have to reschedule. But before i could wipe my brow in relief and walk away from this second attempt, Kyungmi leaped out of her seat and marched straight back to twist the remaining arms and make sure we went ahead with the operation. "I'll be his Valium!" she declared!

Oh, great...i started imagining the necessity for a big bone to be shoved between my teeth to suppress the screams and the need to bite through my tongue from the pain. Maybe leather straps to bind my hands and legs apart to keep me from escaping? Perhaps branding irons were being heated to a white hot glow at that very moment for the final touches...

The moment of truth came. Kyungmi was a very good dose of Valium, holding my hand as i prepared myself and lay out on the operating bed, but the operating doctor promptly had her dismissed ("I never operate in front of family!" he declared). He explained that there was actually a dual purpose for the Valium - not only as a calming agent, but also as a muscle relaxant to prevent the "turtle effect".
"The what?" i asked.
He explained how fear makes a turtle recoil its head and limbs...ah, yes, the analogy made sense. The funny effects of fear...

I tried not to look at the rack of tools being laid out, but it was hard to avoid seeing them out of my peripheral vision. Fortunately, a good conversation about music and musicians went a long way in calming me down. The doctor did an excellent job of explaining what to expect at each stage. The worst part of the operation was actually the very beginning, with the pinch of the needle and the slight burning sensation of the anesthetic. There was one other uncomfortable moment in the middle where an increase in pressure required a bit more anesthetic, but besides that there really was no pain at all. I kept my eyes fixed on the ceiling the whole time - i just didn't have to stomach to watch any part of the procedure. The strangest part was the smell of burning flesh, but fortunately it was only a smell and not a sensation.

A few minutes later and that was that. i was able to walk out of the office with really no pain, although the anesthesia began to wear off after about 30 minutes. Most of the pain feels like my jewels were kicked pretty roughly, and i'm noticing some black and blue bruising today, but the incision site itself doesn't hurt at all (Kyungmi was amazed that everything could be done with such a small cut! Apparently we have Chinese doctors to thank for that technique.) The Percocet painkillers really put me to sleep yesterday afternoon and through most of the morning today - haven't slept that well in years! i think i'll stick to Advil for the rest of the recovery, as the pain has significantly subsided already and i'd rather not sleep the entire weekend away.

So there you have it - V is for Vasectomy, and it was far less painful that i dreaded, though i'll be walking with a John Wayne swagger for some time to come...

www.hughsung.com www.hughsung.com/blog Hugh Sung http://hughsung.com http://hughsung.com/blog

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August 10, 07

V-Day

...wish me luck...gulp!

www.hughsung.com www.hughsung.com/blog Hugh Sung http://hughsung.com http://hughsung.com/blog

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August 09, 07

PDF Annotator 60% Discount Sale Today only!

I received this promotional email from Grahl Software Design, developers of one of my all-time favorite programs PDF Annotator, announcing a fantastic 60% discount sale through Bits du Jour. PDF Annotator is the only program i know of that allows for seamless inking on Acrobat PDF files, taking full advantage of the power of Tablet PC's or the digital pen capabilities of external digitizers like the Wacom tablets. At just under $20, this program is indispensable for musicians needing to retain the paper and pencil feel of music scores with all the advantages of working in the digital arena. You can see a video of how PDF Annotator works here .

Here's the email message below - run over to Bits du Jour as fast as you can to grab a copy of PDF Annotator!!


This Thursday, we will have a 24 hours sale with our partner
BitsDuJour. If you don't know BitsDuJour, they offer one
great software deal a day. It's Bits (anything digital) of the Day.
Every weekday, they feature one program or service at a substantial
discount.

And on August 9, they will feature PDF Annotator at a
discounted price of $19.90! So tell your friends or grab a license
for yourself!

About PDF Annotator: PDF Annotator lets the user open any PDF file
and add annotations, using the keyboard, mouse or a Tablet PC pen,
directly on the PDF file's pages. The annotated documents can then
be saved directly back to PDF format.

Bits du Jour


www.hughsung.com www.hughsung.com/blog Hugh Sung http://hughsung.com http://hughsung.com/blog

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August 08, 07

Pain-free Ubuntu installation - really!

This one is thanks to CNet.com - Wubi is quite simply an amazing, truly simple Linux Ubuntu installer that doesn't require burning a CD or partitioning your hard drive! My previous struggles with getting Ubuntu onto Jayne (my ornery new computer that has issues and a bone-headed attitude) seemed to leave me with serious deficiencies - not being able to read NTFS file formats (NTFS=Windows-friendly), not being able to access the wireless card with the Ubuntustudio version of the kernel, constant boot hangs and freeze-ups that were wildly unpredictable, the list went on and on.

Wubi ingeniously dispenses with the hassles of installing the Ubuntu OS ("Operating System") on a Windows XP machine by creating a single folder containing all the necessary files, and by some Linux magic it creates virtual partitions that preserve full disk access throughout the NTFS universe. Various versions of Ubuntu can be selected for install (i opted for the multimedia-intensive Ubuntustudio version). A few brief requests for customized inputs (username, password, etc.) and Wubi either proceeds to download the Ubuntu ISO files, or it can work with an existing ISO from your hard drive.

All OS upgrades/installations should be this simple! Wubi is not only simple, but actually better performing than the "regular" Ubuntu installation route! Oh, excuse me - am i drooling with delight over the keyboard? Sorry about that - it's just so amazing to find something this simple, effective, and powerful that actually WORKS!!

Thank you, CNet, for the wonderful heads up about this terrific app! Be sure to check out CNet's informative video on the Wubi installation experience. Whoopie for Wubi!!

www.hughsung.com www.hughsung.com/blog Hugh Sung http://hughsung.com http://hughsung.com/blog

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August 07, 07

Lost Luggage Lessons

Bad experiences can have a good bit of their sting removed if lessons can be learned from them. Fresh from the miraculous recovery of my Casio Privia digital piano from the clutches of British Airways' cargo caverns, here are some thoughts to prepare intrepid traveling musicians:

  • Typically, airlines will reimburse up to only $300 per lost bag. Insurance will upgrade that amount to only $1000, so ALWAYS purchase travel insurance if you will be bringing valuables through checked bags.


  • Keeping in mind the limits of travel insurance, try not to pack anything valued over $1000 in checked bags.


  • Irreplaceable items should NEVER be placed in checked bags; they should be stowed in your carry-on bag.


  • Consider equipment rentals as an alternative to the risk of traveling with valuable items. I read somewhere about double bass players maintaining a network for loaning instruments to traveling bassists for concerts and auditions - my experience with Robb's Music in Boulder, Colorado was a good example of being able to rent a decent Roland RD-700 (not the SX model) complete with keyboard stand, speakers, and cabling for a reasonable price and the absence of luggage hassles.


  • There once was a group of brass players that had the frustrating experience of losing one of their bags at a Florida airport - what made it so frightening was the fact that a trombonist's mouthpiece was among the lost articles! To reinforce the "invaluables" ideas for traveling musicians, here's a partial list of items NOT to pack in checked bags:


  • Mouthpieces

  • Music (this is where having scores in digital format can be a tremendous advantage for travelers, especially pianists!)

  • Reeds

  • Reed equipment (oops, just realized that this includes knives for shaping reeds - a real "no no" for carry-on luggage, unfortunately...looks like this kit stays in the checked bags)

  • Extra strings

  • End pin stoppers (or at least, be sure to wear a belt with a buckle, just in case!)

  • Passports (seems obvious, but you'd be surprised...)

  • Pen (especially if you're traveling overseas, with all those customs forms to fill out)



  • I'd love to hear from you if there are other "DO NOT PACK IN CHECKED BAGS" items to be added to this list!

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    August 06, 07

    A Piano Comes Home

    After 45 days, British Airways policy declares lost luggage "officially lost". This past Friday was the 45th day, passing by grimly without any word from BA. i was waiting for the insurance forms to be mailed out to me to start the dismal reimbursement procedures, bracing myself for the financial hit i was going to take for the loss of my Casio Privia PX-100 digital piano, my M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB digital audio interface, and the irreplaceable Justice Visions Camera Document Scanner, along with the slim ATA keyboard case and other sundry items within.

    Imagine my surprise when, on the evening of the 46th day, my phone buzzed in my pocket during a screening of "The Bourne Supremacy" (Kyungmi has been dying to see this movie!) with word from a British Airways driver informing me that my long lost bag was being delivered directly to my house! No explanation was available for how it was found or why it took so long, but those things didn't really matter anymore, overshadowed by the thrill of having my piano resurrected from luggage-Hades!

    My Casio PX-100 Digital Piano, back from the graveyard at Heathrow Airport!

    Aside from a busted plastic name tag cover and evidence that the bag was jostled around violently enough to dislodge one of the tough velcro pads securing the piano within the case, everything seems to be relatively intact. The PX-100 powered up just fine - i'll have to test the JV Camera Document Scanner and the M-Audio device as soon as i get a chance.

    Funny how hard it is now to maintain my fury at British Airways - but don't get me wrong, i'm going to be thinking long and hard before i commit to putting another piano through check-in baggage...


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    Welcome!

    Thank you for visiting this site! I hope you'll find this to be a friendly place to learn about and discuss the fascinating technologies available for the Classical Musician. A great place to get started is with the ongoing "Getting Started" series. Remember, the worst questions are the ones you never ask, so feel free to email me!

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