Calling All Dawns


Christopher Tin’s new album, Calling All Dawns, came out a couple weeks ago. Have a listen:

Besides being able to record new pieces in Abbey Road with the Royal Philharmonic (not to mention Anonymous 4 and von Stade and Dulce Pontes), Chris also got to redo Baba Yetu with the Soweto Gospel Choir. As you can hear above, they did an incredible job finding the piece’s exuberance and abundance of joy. I especially enjoy the (new?) solo voice that rises above the bridge. In fact, Chris did change a few things for this version (via Steinar Kristoffersen):

    Steinar: ‘The last time we wrote you mentioned that […] the audio guys over at Firaxis decided to remove your percussion and replace it with their own. I must confess I’m curious [about] why the decision to replace your percussion was necessary or even desirable. I’ll also admit, however, that – alas – I do like both versions of the track, and I probably have a particular fondness for the Civ 4 version, if only because I heard and fell in love with that versionfirst. Which is, from a composer’s point of view (a point of view I can relate to and understand), unfortunate since that’s not how you intended the track to go, but, well, there it is. It’s still a wonderful track either way, and I’m happy to have both versions on my playlist.’

    Chris: ‘Yeah, it’s unfortunate that most people heard the Firaxis version first; and now that I’m creating yet a THIRD version, I have to figure out how to add something new, yet appeal to those who already fell in love with the first two versions. Nuts. :)’

    This album has been Chris’s labor of love for quite some time. If you appreciate his music, go buy it now.

This Will Surely End Badly

So, I have finally joined the pseudo-masses and am now on Twitter. I’m not sure how this will all play out – perhaps my blog will someday report that I lasted twittered 283 days ago – but it’s worth a try. I’ll be twittering my GDC thoughts this week (assuming I can make it work from my BlackBerry). Come to think of it, this might actually allow me to record the GDC notes I’ve always wanted to take but never did (or misplaced). Also, by twittering, I’ll get to skip writing my annual, three-months-late GDC summary! So, there’s that…

Presentations

Continuing the trip down memory lane, I added a section to my sidebar chronicling various articles or presentations I have done over the years. I will expand it further as I find new links. (Unfortunately, the link to my 2004 GDC slides appears to be now dead. I’ll provide my own source for this talk when I get a chance.)

Update: GDC 2004 link is now fixed thanks to Apolyton!

Music = Shareware?

Radiohead has caused a pretty big stir by announcing that their new album, In Rainbows, will be initially released as download-only, and they are allowing their customers to name-their-own-price for the album. (Further, the only physical version of the album available – the “discbox” – costs a very pricey 40 quid, essentially forcing the vast majority of fans to buy the album as a download.)

This business model sounds fairly radical to music consumers, but it is actually pretty familiar for gamers. Simply put, In Rainbows is shareware, meaning freely-distributed digital data with optional payment. Small-scale games (or larger ones, like Doom) have been distributed as shareware since the very beginnings of personal computing. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of Radiohead’s gamble. Personally, I would prefer digital music to move towards either a subscription service or a single, non-DRM download shop, but it’s nice to see a novel option been tried (or borrowed).

Hello world! (Again!)

I have been blogging on and off (mostly off) for about two-and-a-half years now. Back then, I decided to use Movable Type, which seemed awfully powerful but turned out to be not very user friendly. Further, I kept seeing all these nice features on other people’s blogs (multi-category posts, pages, blogroll sections) which must have been more than a coincidence. Indeed, they all seemed to be using WordPress, which puts the most useful features right in front of the blogger. (I had to hack an About page on Movable Type, whereas it comes built-in on WordPress.) It began dawning on me that I may have made the dreaded Wrong Software Choice. Worse still, although I wanted to change, I had nightmares that I would basically have to start a new site from scratch, and my beloved designer-notes.com would fade away into obscurity.

Not so! Thanks to the awesome support at Living Dot, my old site is reborn on WordPress. I sent them an e-mail asking if this switch was possible and not even two hours later, I was looking at my new/old site. Huzzah!

I think it is a common mistake, actually, for “technical” people like me (hey, I’ve got the MS is CS to prove it!) to always go for the “more powerful” option when choosing software, even if it ends up being less powerful because we never make it past the beginning level. Just because I know C++ doesn’t mean I’m any better at html/php than the next guy.