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Benjamin Oakes

Photo of Ben Oakes

Hi, I'm Ben Oakes and this is my geek blog. Currently, I'm a Ruby/JavaScript Developer at Liaison. Previously, I was a Developer at Continuity and Hedgeye, a Research Assistant in the Early Social Cognition Lab at Yale University and a student at the University of Iowa. I also organize, ICRuby, OpenHack Iowa City, and previously organized NewHaven.rb. I have an amazing wife named Danielle Oakes.

Sonic Pi – The Live Coding Music Synth for Everyone

by Ben

Sonic Pi
The Live Coding Music Synth for Everyone.

Welcome to the future of music.

Simple enough for computing and music lessons.
Powerful enough for professional musicians.
Free to download with a friendly tutorial.

Learn to code creatively by composing or performing music in an incredible range of styles from classical & jazz to EDM.

Source: Sonic Pi

The goal of these articles is to explore the relationships between music and code, by analyzing and recreating the track Aerodynamic from Daft Punk.

Unlike classical approaches to generate sound on a computer, we are going to generate sound by writing text: instead of adding tracks, instruments, samples… on a timeline, we will see how to express those in code and how to play music.

Source: Aerodynamic · mxs

OSC-over-UDP is just OSC packed data sent over a UDP connection. My first serious encounter with OSC-over-UDP was when I attended strangloop and talked about The Mess We’re In

I bumped into Sam Aaron, the unstoppable force behind Sonic Pi and said that it would be really cool to control Sonic Pi from Erlang. …

Sam told me that to control Sonic Pi all I had to do was send it OSC encoded messages over UDP.

Source: Joe Armstrong – A Badass Way to Connect Programs Togther

Why we love repetition in music

by Ben

Why we love repetition in music – Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis – Aeon.

The speech-to-sound illusion, discovered by Diana Deutsch, UC San Diego. To experience the illusion, play the two recordings in sequence.

Psychology and hearing: two of my favorite things. (via Dan Bernier)

I have a fan club!

by Ben

There are some things in life that you just don’t expect. One of those things happened to me today.

For those of you who don’t now, I play saxophone. Several people have told me that I play quite well, but I’m a pessimist and just plain like to criticize myself. I just can’t believe them. It has helped me grow in many respects–though I should still practice much more than I do.

This all started at the Hoover Jazz Festival last year. There was a mall nearby and some friends and I decided that we should go. I ended up being late for the jazz combo’s warm up (which was scheduled about an hour before we had to play, which I didn’t realize). I remember running and running from the mall back to the Festival, feeling like such an idiot. But things panned out differently than I could have foreseen.

Being that I was late, several people were out looking for me. One of these was Sami’s uncle Jerry. He told me that he “walked around saying ‘Ben Oakes, Ben Oakes'” while looking. Of course, I showed up, never saw him (as far as I can remember), and went on to play. He was in the audience and was impressed with my ability (and other’s, I’m sure). So impressed, in fact, that he decided to use my name as a sobriquet when singing karaoke. Apparently, he sings this somewhat often.

I was informed of this while working one day by Sami and her mother. It was not something that you hear every day, so it got filed away into my brain. “Wow,” I thought. It’s interesting how one can affect people without really trying.

After work today, I got a phone call. It was Sami saying that her uncle was in town and wanted to get his picture taken with Ben Oakes. I said that I would (there wasn’t much else that I was doing) and showed up about twenty minutes later. By sheer chance we were wearing almost the same shirt and pants. Allegedly, he recognized me while driving home from the grocery store. Yes, several people told me to worry because I had a stalker (He lives in Illinois; I don’t think I’ll have to worry). They took the picture with a digital camera; it will be as soon as they send me a copy.

He turned out to be a pretty cool guy. We talked for a litte while and it seemed like we had several things in common (minus the name). His wife Mel (at least I think that it was his wife–there were too many people there that I didn’t know) is into computers, gladly, so I’ll have a picture soon. She suggested that we email back and forth, which I would be glad to do. Next time I visit my grandmother in Illinois, I might have to take a side trip.

I ended up walking away with more than just a interesting story. He’s in a rock band and felt obligated to give me one of their CD‘s. It was professionally printed and recorded too. This is not what I was expecting to do tonight, but I’m certainly not complaining.

If anyone else wants to join the “Ben Oakes Fan Club,” leave a comment to this article and I’ll put you in contact with Jerry. I’ll be signing pictures all week.


by Ben

I used to be into an operating system called BeOS. There was a band made up of employees of Be Inc. called The Cotton Squares (archived) who had their songs posted in MP3 format on their website, but I can only seem to get two of them: 5038 and Virtual Void. Oddly, only a few people on BeShare seem to have any.

The horrible thing is, I think I deleted them a few years ago. That’s the thing about computers, you can be a pack rat with out cluttering up your house. I guess I went on a spring cleaning rampage.

Update (2010/06/06): I’ve found copies of the MP3s I mentioned since writing the original post. I think it’s pretty safe to say they’re some of the last copies available. Since I know I’m not the only person who would go looking for these, I thought I should post them here. The BeOS has gone away, the band’s site is down, I can’t figure out how to contact their label, their fan club is no more, and I can’t even find anything on Amazon.
I think I found Baron Arnold (a member of the band) Facebook and Twitter, so I’m trying to ask him first.

Update (2010/06/22): My efforts to contact the band, its members, and their label has hit a standstill. All seem to have disappeared a number of years ago (but if that’s not the case, please let me know!) and I can’t find any commercial copies of these anywhere. I know several people have come by my site looking for more info about the Cotton Squares, so I thought I’d post the MP3s. Here they are:

(I especially like Focus Pocus.)

This is strictly a posting as a fan. If you’re the copyright holder and would like them removed, please contact me.

Update (2010/07/14): Baron has blessed sharing the MP3s here. See the comments below.

Update (2010/09/19): Joe Prostko contacted me with a download of the above songs, plus some remixes. Turns out I’m not the only one re-hosting this stuff. :) Thanks, Joe!