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Name: David O'Toole
Member since: 2000-06-17 16:13:33
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I'm a "New Media" freelancer living and working in Boston, Massachusetts.

I am the lead developer for GNU OCTAL, a free music system. More info available at the website, http://www.gnu.org/software/octal/


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I've moved to Boston and started working for Irrational Games, creators of System Shock 2 and employer of numerous LookingGlass alumni.

now playing: Brian Eno + David Byrne "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts"

School. Amherst is out of the picture for this year; got the letter today. I half expected it but it's a disappointment nonetheless. Still hoping to hear something good from Boston.

Work.Finishing up one freelance web design, starting another, and in the meantime I've started working 9-to-5 at UMASS Public Sector Partners doing software QA. Will try to save as much as I can.

Code.The job has put a bit of a dent my time, but I'll just have to work harder...

School. Still waiting for those letters.

Work. Got an assignment with a temp agency, with the promise of more after it's done. It'll be nice to bring some money in.

Code. I've finally broken my coder's block---thank God. I never thought I'd stare at a blank screen again after I'd gotten up into thousands of lines, but any large-scale refactoring operation can cause the same feeling. The upside is that it's even more of a rush when it gets going... :-)

I'm typing this from my brother's house, babysitting for his two insane dogs. I've got a chihuahua named "Ocho" on my lap--she's hiding from Otto the spastic Italian greyhound. What a perfect opportunity to update my advodiary.

School. Still waiting to hear back from those graduate CS programs I applied to--I don't expect to know for another month or so. Sucks having to wait just to see where I'll be in September; will I be living in Amherst, or Boston, or what? Whatever happens, I can't stand living in the towering shadow of Worcester, Massachusetts anymore. Where we had 20+ inches of snow the other day in the space of a few hours.

Code. So I've been doing a little research to finalize the application protocol for Octal. Or rather, I've been reading other people's research papers via CiteSeer. There's an interesting research project called W/Aura [paper] whose underlying message-passing-style object model I really like. The salient point seems to be that objects do not obtain information (i.e. propertly values) from another object by invoking synchronous "get" methods; instead they receive the information asynchronously, possibly in response to a request, possibly not. Not only does this neatly sidestep the RPC ontology quagmire, it also looks like a natural model for low-latency server design---asynchronous interaction means you never have to block.

Berkeley CNMAT's OSC doesn't overtly aspire to the status of an object model, but the general idea is implicit in what I gather of OSC's semantics. What OSC does bring to the table is an abstract, hierarchical namespace with slash-separated paths; it supports dynamic discovery and update of "addresses" within the namespace. I would like to support OSC, as I see no reason for the continued existence of the limiting Atari-5200-era wire protocol known as MIDI--other than for plugging a keyboard into your computer.

I've decided on the general flavour of what I had been calling the "wavetable." I wanted the general functionality but didn't want to restrict the model to just storing loop points and fine-tune. I'd been interested from the start in allowing musicians to define more complex arrangements of samples while still supporting mainstream features such as velocity cross-switching in a straightforward way. An interesting idea from the world of speech synthesis seems to fit my desire: [paper]

Now playing: Vangelis "Blade Runner"

I've upgraded to RedHat 8 with Bluecurve. Except for remaining GTK1.2/2.0 weirdness, this is the first time I've seen Linux look and act truly unified. Not that it's trouble-free; I seem to have an inordinate amount of trouble getting PhpWiki installed and running on the new distro. So in the meantime I'm back to using plain text files for my daily planning.

I'm short on cash so I upgraded my computer by cannibalizing other hardware. Although I'm still down here at 450Mhz, I now have about 392MB of memory; a larger monitor (great for coding); a better graphics card; a zip drive; a working CD-ROM; and of course, better software. I've been using Evolution, Mozilla, X-Chat, Terminal, Gimp, Nautilus, and lots more; I think it moves faster than the jittery, sluggish Windows XP my brother's machine has (and that's on a 1.4 GHZ chip!)

Now is the time to complete a beta/pre-1.0 version of Octal, with all major features implemented. Coding on the Objective-C version has begun. For the time being I'm having an issue with my CVS/SSH access at Subversions but with any luck it'll be resolved by tomorrow.

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