Tag Archives: dj

The history of the pacemaker


I just noticed the other day Pacemakerdevice.org added a history page. Although most of it is on wikipedia.

In January 2005 Jonas Norberg saw a gap in the market for a handheld portable DJ device that would do away with a DJ’s need to lug around boxes of vinyl or cases of CDs, and the idea for the Pacemaker Device (PMD) (PMD) was conceived. In 2006 Jonas, Daniel Wallner and two friends Martin Renck and Ola Sars founded the Tonium company and developed the hardware which became known as the Pacemaker DJ device and the accompanying Editor software for music library management.

The team rapidly expanded from just a few people to more than 30 employees and Pacemaker was launched with a bang at the Miami Winter Music Conference in March 2008 in March 2008 receiving wide coverage in New York Times, Wired Magazine, Monocle, The Guardian and many more. The Pacemaker Device also received several of the most prestigious innovation and design awards including the Red Dot Design Best of the Best and no less than three CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards. The Pacemaker was released to the DJing public, supported by the on-line Pacemaker.net community website for Pacemaker users. Sales of the Pacemaker device are thought to be in the region of 50,000 units.

In 2008, Tonium had become a fairly large large company and Jonas handed over to a new CEO. One of the first visible changes was that Pacemaker.net turned into LetsMix.com, and all support interaction was moved to a third party “Get Satisfaction” site. Unfortunately for us that meant losing all the posts from Pacemaker.net and the Pacemaker community that had been built up was lost overnight. Let’s Mix ultimately became an on-line mix sharing site for DJs creating mixes by any means and not just Pacemakers.

In July 2010 Fazz, a Pacemaker user, created the Pacemaker User’s forum as means of rebuilding the Pacemaker community that was lost. Although this free forum was not without problems, it has built a membership of nearly 1000 members in just over 2 years. Most of the posts here were technical queries from users and the administrators Fazz, Sox, Regis & Migzy were only too happy to provide an answer if they had one.

A number of our members such as DJ Pip, Doogyrev & Ubergeek were not only keen Pacemaker DJs, but also coders and tinkerers and so the hacking of the Pacemaker began. Pip found access to an unreleased version of firmware 16219 on the Tonium website, and methods of manually installing it were also found. It included new beat-lock functionality, but unfortunately the device would sometimes stop working as it hadn’t been finished.

In June 2011, Tonium decided that Let’s Mix was no longer financially viable, and the company filed for bankruptcy. As the owners of the rights to the Pacemaker, this meant that the Pacemaker would no longer be in production from that time on. A sad time for all Pacemaker fans.

Although the Pacemaker was no longer being manufactured, there were (and probably are) still units available for purchase (both new and second-hand), and the Pacemaker Users forum continued to grow. On Thursday 12th January 2012, Jonas announced on the Pacemaker User’s forum that he, the inventor of Pacemaker, had just purchased back the rights to the Pacemaker software from the liquidators. Not only that, but he had plans in the pipeline that would help ensure that the Pacemaker lived on – in one way or another – and he was fully behind what we at the Pacemaker Users forum were about.

Also interesting reading the patent filing. No wonder I’m buying another one and getting my current one upgraded with a SSD and new battery.

Essential digital dj stuff?

Urbanears Slussen in action

Forgot to write about slussen the essential digital dj device some have said. In fact its just a neat audio splitter…

The setup includes a narrow profile splitter for simultaneously connecting headphones and a sound system to your iOS device, plus an app for the actual beat dropping. Urbanears seems to have its heart set on people specifically using Slussen at after-parties, you know because it’s “the most powerful after-party weapon known to man” and all. But you could easily use it in your car or with a portable speaker.

Its pretty nice but doesn’t solve the problems of djing on tablets or phones.

Essentially splitting the output is great if your doing a mix for friends at a afterparty but no club is going to be ok with split audio. I would also question how secure the slussen is in the headphone slot. If your going to do audio splitting, at least use USB or HDMI audio. However by the time you do all that you might as well have carried a laptop really?

Once again I’ll highlight the pacemaker as so ahead of the game. I got to get another one on ebay soon

Pacemaker is Paradigm shifting?


I was explaining to someone over twitter about the Pacemaker device since I was using it at the Future Media North Christmas Party. They were interested in buying some dj kit and was seeking advice from myself and Simon Lumb.

I know the pacemaker device (as its now called) isn’t coming back because frankly there wasn’t enough demand but that shouldn’t affect how ground breaking of a device it was/is. I would go almost as far as to say it was a paradigm shift in djing and mixing. No other device before it had attempted to cater for a niche like djs before and with something so bold.

I was thinking about this when my sister laid claim to my all but dormant BlackBerry Playbook which the pacemaker guys got me. Even the pacemaker guys will be first to admit the tablet isn’t a great platform for djing. Maybe I could push them to say the original vision was compromised when moving to the tablet, but its a compromise which has kept them in the game.


The Pacemaker device was mind blowing, I would suggest almost paradigm shifting.

Everything up to that moment was aping vinyl and then some guys came along and built something which was so radical I can only suggest it was like a paradigm shift in djing. There hasn’t been such a major shift in the way you dj since direct drive turntables.
Not only that the mission was always the democratisation of djing, such a fine and impressive goal.

Of course thats my view, many would disagree? One of the best quotes I heard before I ordered my own over 5 years ago.

I wanted a PlayStation Portable for music” – Jonas Norberg

The Pacemaker in use

Never forgotten and I still use my every few weeks, in fact because of it I now buy more music legally than I had before (at least till when I was buying vinyl). What I’m wondering is if this might be a good time to do some crowd funding? A kickstarter would be easy for these guys because they have a good track record and certainly know what there doing to a certain point. I don’t know if I would pay through the nose again for a pacemaker but I’m seriously thinking about buying another one on ebay just in-case my one goes wrong in some way.

Trance tunes of 2012 super mix

A mix of the lovely trance tunes I’ve been listening of all the best trance tunes from 2012… Fantastic journey through another great year of Trance if I don’t say so myself.

There was a ton of tunes I could have put into the mix including storm by eco and surrender by full tilt.

The playlist is…

  1. Just a sound – Divini Warning
  2. Terrace 5 am (Klauss Goulart Remix edit) – Markus Schulz presents Dakota
  3. UFO – Shogun
  4. Rosegarden 2.0 – JS16
  5. Rewind (mikkas remix) – Emma Hewitt
  6. Intruder – Armin vs MIKE
  7. Hole in the Sky (arctic moon remix) – Tonny Nesse
  8. Uncommon World – Bryan Kearney
  9. Ecstasy – Eddie Makabi feat Einat
  10. Arganda (Chris Schweizer rockin mix) – Heartbeat
  11. Nailed (James Dymond remix) – Paul Webster
  12. Lotus – Shogun
  13. Sand Theme (Chris Schweizer remix) – Aly & Fila vs Bjorn Akesson
  14. We are one (instrumental mix) – Dave 202
  15. Headliner – Jornvan Deynhoven
  16. Not coming down – Ferry Corsten featuring Betsie

BBC FM 2012 Christmas Party mix

Its the season for Christmas parties and the BBC is no different. Yesterday (Friday 8th) it was time for the BBC North Future Media Christmas party at the Deaf institute. To change things up we had a different DJ every 30mins. Of course the Dj’s were from the BBC Future Media (FM) staff.

I was 3rd from the end and threw down a mix of some dance right up to proper trance via some tech trance. Because I was doing this on the pacemaker device (seems a lot of people thought I was using my phone on stage) I was able to record the mix at the same time.

Hardly my best mixing or best choice of tunes but it was right for the time as the dj before was playing commercial house. I was in two minds about some of the tunes but by the end of the 30mins, I decided screw it, here comes the trance.

The playlist is short as you expect in 30mins…

  1. Watch Out (Dirty South Remix) By Ferry Corsten
  2. Shifter By Timo Maas
  3. Shnokel By Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  4. Café Del Mar (Marco V Remix) By Energy 52
  5. Out Of The Blue 2012 By System F
  6. Uncommon World By Bryan Kearney
  7. Ecstasy By Eddie Makabi Feat. Einat

Travels with pacemaker is back…

Really good to know the pacemaker device (as its now called to make the difference from the pacemaker app) is back! For quite a while, the only way I could record mixes a level of reliability was to record the output on an external device like my computer. This problem only really started when I upgraded the pacemaker device to the new found firmware which was found in the wild. It wasn’t official and now looking back was the cause for all my on device recording woes. Yes hindsight is always 20/20!

This mix seems to confirm the new official firmware has not only new features but has fixed the recording problem. Meaning I can record while on my travels. Great news for Trance fans…

Pacemaker mixes are ago go?

The Pacemaker in use

For a long while now I’ve had a problem with my pacemaker… The problem is I can’t reliable use the internal mix recorder. It records like midi by recording the actions and tunes then when you export from the editor it flattens the whole thing into a flatten Ogg Vorbis file.

Problem is it seems to screw up the mixes even though I know the mix was correct. I posted details on the unofficial pacemaker forum but people were blaming Linux, 64bit, Wine or Firmware problem.

Well I’m happy to say since I upgraded the Pacemaker with the new official beta it seems to be better (not perfect). I’m going to give it a proper test soon… If its correct, then it was the firmware all that time, and I should be able to rescue the old mixes, which would be fun. Because the Pacemaker is just a linux device, I’ve also backed it up a few times to my server and then to the cloud.

Expect more travels with pacemaker soon including my airplane mixes…

Pacemaker device upgrade

Pacemaker Device

If you’ve not seen the Pacemaker Device (pmd) had a official firmware update over the last few months. This is great news because this shows pacemaker device isn’t dead, and there might still be a lot more life in this ground breaking device.

The firmware is beta but to be honest it feels very stable to me just like the leak pacemaker firmware from over 3 years ago. One of the major additions is the ability to scratch which I’ve not played with yet, but theres plenty more stuff…

  • Scratching (Vinyl Mode) – Enable it under (Settings, Mix Control, Vinyl Mode). Simply touch the edges of the navigation pad on the Pacemaker to scratch your music.
  • Beat Lock/Sync Mode – Enable beat lock by holding the P-Button down and pressing Play on the second deck. The second deck will be synced to the same tempo as the first and held there until this process is repeated.
  • Sync Tempo – Hold the P-Button down and press Cue on the second deck. The second decks tempo will now match the tempo of the first deck.
  • Beat Jump – Enable beat jump by holding the P-Button down and pressing ‘REW’ on a deck. ‘Beat Jump Enabled’ will be displayed. Repeat this process to jump backward in time in the track or hold the P-Button down and press ‘FWD’ to jump forward in the track. You can change the length of the jump by holding the P-Button down and pressing the ‘REW’ and ‘FWD’ buttons simultaneously. Great for creating a ‘stutter effect’.
  • Fixed Loop Length – Set Fixed Loop Lengths in (Settings, Mix Control, Fixed Loop Length) and all loops you create will default to that length.
  • Snap Loops – Set this on under (Settings, Mix Control, Snap Loops) and all loops that are created will be snapped to the nearest beat.
  • Digital Output (Play mode only) – Requires an A/V cable (Digital out where video should be) and this mode only works on the line-out channel (Hardware limitation)

Its quite easy to upgrade and on Linux, you just need to follow the Mac instructions.

Ensure your Pacemaker has at least 20% charge before starting this process. Download the firmware by clicking here

  1. Connect your Pacemaker Device to your PC via a mini USB cable.
  2. View the Pacemaker drive so you can see the folders on the device (like you would with a memory stick)
  3. Find the .Pacemaker folder (it might be a hidden folder so you might have to enable viewing of hidden folders).
  4. Copy the firmware you downloaded into this folder.
  5. Safely Eject the Pacemaker Device
  6. Your Pacemaker should now reboot and install the firmware – this might take several minutes. Do not unplug your device during this process.
  7. Once completed the device may either need to be ejected again from the computer, or it may display a screen as if it has just been turned on and is ready to mix.
  8. You’re done – Let’s Mix.
  9. Be sure to post your comments over in the official forum thread here, to show your support to the team.

Pacemaker upgrade complete

Here’s my pacemaker with the latest Firmware updated…

New Mix: Summer is brewing a storm

Been a long time but I have decided not to upload every complete mix I do, just the good ones.

So here’s the Summer is brewing a storm mix, which is very true up here in Manchester right now

  1. Lotus – Shogun
  2. Constellation (John O’Callengham remix) – Thomas Bronzwaer
  3. Gouryella (extended mix) – Gouryella
  4. Never say never (Myon & Shane 54 remix) – Armin Van Buuren feat Jacqueline Govaert
  5. Nothing but you (Super8 & Tab remix) – Paul Van Dyk
  6. Shadow World – Thomas Bronzwaer
  7. Out of the Blue (2010 remix) – System F
  8. Turn it around – Alena
  9. Hold that Sucker down – Jerome Isma AE
  10. Shnorkel (dousk exclusive gems remix) – Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  11. First time (Funabashi remix) – Markus Schulz
  12. Wonders of Life (F&W remix) -Tukan Light
  13. Above the Cloud – Airwave

Pacemaker under glass…!

In my last blog post I wrote how I was given the opportunity to play with an early build of the Pacemaker app on the Blackberry playbook at Over the Air 2012…

I won’t comment on Over the Air 2012 which looked frankly amazing and how great it was to catch up with old London friends even for a few minutes. That was all great and I look forward to catching up with people in the week when I’m down in London.

This is about the playbook and the pacemaker application.

The top line is… almost unusable, shocking and sadly uninspiring!

First of all it took ages to get the files on to the device, for some reason the playbook wouldn’t mount on my ubuntu thinkpad laptop, even though the machine which the guy was using was the exact laptop. Yes even he had a Thinkpad X220 but was running Windows 7 and had installed some magical playbook driver. So we had to copy most of my collection over to his laptop over USB sticks and my Android phone. That problem I blame RIM/Blackberry for… No mass storage mode, even MTP would have been a start. So I assume no Linux support is coming?

Once the files were loaded on to the Playbook, the guy started the Pacemaker application and I was a little underwhelmed to see they had gone with the two decks and a crossfader approach. I was expecting something a little more clever specially with the pacemaker under their belts. The guy whos playbook it was, didn’t know how to use the application and certainly didn’t know how to dj. However there were common interfaces elements with the pacemaker which made it understandable for me. But there were bits like the legendary P switch which was missing. So it wasn’t till half way through that I found out how to change the EQ and Gain. That problem was certainly Tonium’s.

I started with my pacemaker and tried to mix from the pacemaker to the app and it was the most painful mixing I’ve heard in a long while. The problem was the app not only kept skipping and pausing on beats but there was no monitor/headphone out. This for me make the whole thing pointless to use! Not only that, unlike on the pacemaker which showed every beat using an highly efficient system to show you the next 4 beats of both tracks, so you can almost dj without monitoring with some knowledge of the track structure. Tonium opted for the Virtual Dj/Tracktor/etc whole track waveform (forgot to add how long it took to render each wave form, although you can play it blind while it renders). Not very useful when your beats are galloping like some runaway horses. I even tried to use the sync feature but frankly that was rubbish too. The mix was all over the place. Once again Tonium’s fault, as I’m sure the playbook is capable of playing two tracks together at the same time. However RIM/Blackbery need to get 2 discreet outputs otherwise its always going to be a joke (stereo splitters deserve to die, and as I said to the guy. No club is ever going to let you plug in if your splitting the audio! Further rendering it as a bit of fun).

The latency of the touchscreen of the Playbook made the whole thing a total joke. The only time I’ve ever had such bad latency when djing is while trying to mix on a piece of glass during the Thinking Digital conference 3 years ago (by the way the blog about thinking digital is coming soon).

If you don’t understand what I mean by latency go have a look at this great Microsoft research demo where they got the latency of a touchscreen down to 1ms. But it wasn’t just that… As switched back and forth between the Pacemaker and the app, I could feel something was missing. Even with the touchpad of the pacemaker, I could do multiplate it in ways which were just ignored by the playbook. Honestly the interaction rant about pictures under glass was never more apt for this moment. Whos to blame for this? Well both and everyone. Although the trackpad of the pacemaker could be seen as the same as the multitouch screen, its certainly not.

I know a few of you are saying, yeah yeah give it a few weeks and you will also like it But honestly no I won’t. Of course if RIM/Blackberry want to give me one to fully try out over weeks or months then great I won’t say no but I think the end result will be the same. Even if Apple or even Google were to release a Dj app for iOS or Android, I would be saying pretty much the same. The problem isn’t RIM/Blackberry or even Tonium’s, its pictures under glass. You can’t get away from it…

The guy who’s playbook it was, said the later versions he had seen was more stable but frankly if it was bulletproof… Theres far too many other problems…

If I was Tonium, I would scrap the copying Virtual DJ, Tracktor, etc and take advantage of the beat chart system they enabled on the pacemaker. You need to be able to mix without hear the track, because I’m sorry to say the splitter option is a instant no for any self respecting DJ.

Tonium claim they used Blackberrys’s QNX platform because it was quicker and more responsive then others out there. If thats true, then make it so! Right now I’m not seeing anything advantages over the other platform. Even having dual outputs would have put Blackberry well ahead of the game and made the platform much more attractive to djs and artists but right now it looks no different to the rest except there are few apps, few developers and fewer buyers. If RIM/Blackberry really want to do something radical, getting Tonium to build the pacemaker software for them isn’t going to fly unless theres serious hardware changes too.

It hurts me to say it because I really wanted Tonium to go on to a winner and heck if the blackberry platform was the place to do that, then great. But instead what they have done is aped DJ software already out there, added a few bits from Pacemaker and done an very disappointing job.

The thing which is never meant to happen while djing happened! Yes the Pacemaker software crashed and left me scrambling for my pacemaker. Not only that, there was clear machine/software distortion through out when you feel the system was under-stress.

I believe nothing can save this pacemaker app unless its a new blackberry playbook (with low latacy  and 2 outputs)  its going to run on?

The late night mixes

A few mixes I’ve recently posted to MixCloud recorded from my Pacemaker… Both mixes are on the darker tip hence the late night titles… Looks like I’m going to have to consider switching back to laptop djing in the near future, as the pacemaker gets older and older. In the meanwhile I have 2 mixes for your listening pleasure…

This mix is both dark and light, a little something for the winter nights. Recorded on a cold late night in December

  1. Spotlight – Jornvan Deynhoven
  2. Ultracurve – Cosmic Gate
  3. Intruder – Armin Van Buuren vs M.I.K.E
  4. The Labyrinth (Part One) – Moogwai
  5. Circles (Andy Blueman Remix) – Robert Nickson
  6. Constellation (John O’Callaghan Remix) – Thomas Bronzwaer
  7. Surrender (Sneijder vs John O’Callaghan Remix) – Full Tilt Feat Deirdre McLaughlin
  8. Intution (Mathin Roth Remix) – Marninx Pres. Ecco
  9. Comet – Skytech
  10. Frozen – Dogzilla
  11. Turbulence – Klauss Goulart
  12. Body of contact (cosmic gate club mix) – Cosmic Gate
  13. Rheinkraft (extended mix) – Oliver Klein
  14. Everything’s Been Written – 8 Wonders
  15. Nothing Else Matters (Aly & Fila Remix) – Max Graham feat. Ana Criado
  16. Casino Fire – Matias Faint
  17. The string which binds us (8 Wonders mix) – Arnej
  18. From the Earth (Breakfast Remix) – Andrew Bayer

The late night ear killer mix by Cubicgarden on Mixcloud

This mix is pretty dark and moody, its full of crumbling tech beats and progressive cycles. You certainly want to take it easy with the volume control on this one. Recorded on a late night like the late night intruder mix.

  1. Body of Contact (Cosmic Gate club mix) – Cosmic Gate
  2. Kalopsia (Monogato’s Filth remix)- The Blizzard
  3. Strike – Signum
  4. Intruder – Armin van Buuren vs MIKE
  5. Rheinkraft (extended mix) – Oliver Klein
  6. One Night in New York City (Chris Leibing mix) – The Horrorist
  7. Transponder – Mauro Picotto
  8. Casino Fire – Matias Faint
  9. One for you (Oliver Klein remix) – Oliver Klein
  10. Ninety – Sander Van Doorm
  11. Strange Bends (Kyau vs Albert mix) – Sebastian Sand
  12. Joy Energizer (Psycho mix) – Joy Kitikonti
  13. Shnorkel – Miki Litvak & Ido Ophir
  14. Panic Attack – Simon Patterson

Imagine if you could remix books?

Cooking for Geeks cover

There is something about Simon Lumb, something that everytime we chat creative juices start flowing (wipe that smile off your smutty face, you know what I mean)…

Off the back of a conversation in Wagamama about Richard St John’s 8 Traits to be great, which I have a physical signed copy of after a TEDx. We got talking about how I tend to own a physical copy of most books although I also own the ebook version. Then we got talking about Instapaper and Readitlater, how they give you the ability to pull together elements from a range of sources…

Imagine if you could do the same thing as a published book? Remix books!

Books right now are like Albums, but imagine if they were more like singles and EP’s?

They could be like the Mixtape of the written word? Fits perfect with the self publishing trend.

  • Example 1: Custom cookbook. Pick a your favourite menu items and self publish your own cookbook. A bit of Jamie, dash of Heston and a lot of Nigella (yes please). Arrange them into a new type of cook book which is custom for you, or reflects your cooking style. It could be a cookbook for you or for someone else…
  • Example 2: The best of… Many times in the past, people have said the best way to learn about Z is to read chapters Y & X of book W and chapters A, B and C of book D… Want to know the best to learn how to skateboard or surf? I recommend reading my custom book which is made up of… you get the idea
  • Example 3: The best places in the world. Could be a nice mix of places you’ve never been to before, places you inspire to go or places you have been to before. Actually it kind of reminds me of off beat guides, but instead of building it from raw components its from previous decent reviews.
  • Sure there are many more including books for young children, books for different learning styles, etc, etc…

The remix methodology is actually very apt, because instead of building your own from the components, your remixing parts of others. Like a Dj remixing other peoples tunes.

The copyrights framework will be a nightmare to work out (we’re not kidding ourselves about that) but to be honest it could be something like the music rights framework for albums and singles? Might even increase the amount of readership for some books? It could be massive changes, or little changes like the art work in the book. Instead of lovely glossy pictures of food in a cook book, it could be technical diagrams for those more interested in seeing those? Maybe the remixes will cost more than the originals but to the person who gets it, its worth so much more. You get the idea…

Crazy idea? Tell me and Simon why? Maybe you love it and want to run with it? Well all we require is attribution… This idea is open to the world… Run with it and tell us when you get rich by changing the publishing industry. This is what places like Lulu have been crying out for right? Just like… My lifestreaming dating idea and my dreamscape idea. Go get them, change the world or go Lazy web make it so…!

Stem based mixing coming your way soon?

Dj Challenge in progress

One of the killer ideas which came out of the Mozilla Festival in the Dj challenge was the idea of Stem based mixing

The idea is great and I think there’s plenty of momentum behind it. Daniel James and Fin Stamp worked this idea through and now there’s a post on the Mixxx forums. Here’s the details of the post…

At the Mozilla Festival in London last weekend, I took part in a Hack the DJ workshop, looking at ways to take digital DJ’ing to the next level. One of the ideas proposed was stem mixing, using multichannel files in DJ applications. A proprietary implementation of this idea is Fireplayer but this app is built with the intention that users will buy remixable versions of (a very limited number of) well-known songs from an in-app store. I would like to work towards a new open standard for stem mixing, something that is compatible with sharing our mixes on the open web – legally, of course – but could also be used by record labels that sell tracks to DJs.

For example, eight channel Ogg Vorbis files where the first two tracks are a stereo mix of the drums, third and fourth stereo bass, fifth and sixth stereo vocals, and seventh and eighth tracks everything else. This means that you can mute or solo individual stems in the mix, giving you the versatility of four-deck or eight-deck mixing but without the problems of keeping many decks in sync, since the stems within a single file are locked on the same timeline. Also, it makes using the mixer a lot simpler than for many-deck mixing, because you don’t need to keep assigning the crossfader to the various different decks.

Of course this means that the eight channel .ogg file has to be prepared specially for DJ’ing, but this is already possible in Audacity. So we have a file format, and an editor, but what we don’t yet have is full support for stem mixing in open source DJ applications. Sweep supports scratching on eight-channel files, but it doesn’t have a mixer. Mixxx has a mixer, but doesn’t support multichannel Ogg files (yet), as far as I can see.

So, what do you think? Is stem mixing a genuinely useful feature that will allow DJs to be more creative, or will it fail if the best music continues to be available in stereo only? Please add your comments below

I like to think this could be massive thing because although you might be able to get the Stem’s of a tune if your a international superstar dj and have contacts in high places. But if your just a bedroom dj or even play out quite a bit but not a popular name, getting access to the stems of a tune is near impossible.

In fact what were trying to do is standardise the format, so it means the bedroom producers and the massive music businesses can compete on a level platform. This might strike fear into some but when the stereo track is no more and everyone is expecting the Stems of the track as standard, then you will have to go along with it.

Ogg Vorbis is a great starting point and knowing it can support up to 200+ tracks is great for future capability. There are a ton of questions of how it works for a Dj but its certainly a challenge which will be fun to have. I just hope we can stay away from the logic/alberton type interface…

Can’t wait to mix with Stem’ed Ogg Vorbis files…!

Banging the drum for Media Freedom and the Web

I was very excited to invited to the Mozilla Festival which this year was in London. Not only that, it was in South East London.

The Mozilla Festival use to be the Drumbeat Festival but got a rename. The event is something between a un-conference and a hackday. A whole series of challenges which people can duck in and out of. Challenges ranged from Data Journalism to Disc Jockey hacking (ironically both DJ).

Dj Challenge

I headed up the DJ (disc jockey) challenge which was first formulated quite some time ago on behalf of BBC R&D and FutureEverything.

The challenge was to reinvent or at least evolve dj’ing. We started the challenge on Saturday afternoon and it kicked off with a little stimulus from myself and others in the form of a modified presentation. On top of that, we pointed to the Google Doc, which was an aggregation of thoughts from not just myself but many others including BBC staff.

That list is still available if your interested in getting involved in the challenges.


But what came out of the challenge were 2 very strong ideas…

  1. Can we create a format which supports tracks or layers in songs, then build Dj software which takes advantage of them.
  2. Can we build a club environment which makes use of sensors to feedback to the Dj and Vj in real-time through meaningful visualisations
More were talked about but these were the strongest ones, and these are the ones which will be taken forward hopefully into the Future Everything festival next year.
The theme for the conference/hackday was around media & web freedom and there was a question how does the Dj challenge fit into this? Well I gave the example of my pacemaker…

Dj Challenege

A few of us were looking at the problem of what you do with mixes once there finished? Actually one of them was from Mixcloud.com and we were exploring the idea of licensing, etc but we started to think what other ways can you experience mixes? One idea was to map locations to places in a mix.
On my pacemaker, I’ve done mixes walking through locations such as the wrong end of irlam mix. Imagine if it had GPS, so you could map sections to a location. When the mix is uploaded, it could lead people through an artificial version of my journey. So you could experience that moment when the bus streamed past and almost knocked someone over :) How exactly this works, we don’t know, but that’s the challenge…


This for me is the effect of the web on Djing, perfecting fitting into the media and web freedom ethos.
The challenge asked a lot of the people who did attend and frankly if I was to do it again I would size down the challenge down to a few core areas and work on things which can be done in the 90mins we had. Mozilla did allow us to run over 2 days and we have some ideas did run through-out them.
Moving away from the Dj challenge for now, I didn’t get much of a chance to attend the other challenges, but they sounded great. There was a real feel of excitement in the air and the location of Ravensbourne added another layer to it all.

Mozilla Festival

Here’s some of the other stuff which looked very interesting to me…

This Javascript library is looking very impressive and the documentary combining Popcorn with WebGL was impressive. I can only imagine what Adam Curtis could do with this… I’ve made a note to check it out in detail soon. I also think it could be useful in the area of Perceptive Media.
Its another one of those Javascript library’s (seems to be a trend). This one is a nice gaming framework, its still in alpha but it slightly crosses over with the BBC R&D universal control spec from what I saw in the demo.
Hyperaudio links written text with the spoken word. This means you can edit a audio file like how you edit text. Its quite magical when you see it, and would make a great tool for remixing
Teaching young people through standard web technologies how to change the web and make it there own. I think of it like One Laptop Per Child’s Sugar but less programmatic…
Although this wasn’t in the event, I found them from one persons suggestion and then when I went to look up the Eatery I found it again. Its like Creative Commons for privacy, interesting…

Mozilla Festival

Unlike Hackdays where everyone gets a chance to demo there hacks to everyone else, the Mozilla festival had the challenge leaders stand up on stage and give a brief overview of the best ideas and prototypes. On the Saturday night there was keynotes from a whole bunch of people including Tim Hunkin. Everything was good till a guy from the Tech City commission or something started going on and on… Wrong place and wrong time to do a pitch for how great silicon roundabout and techcity are… Frankly I would have liked to have thrown a popcorn.js rubber toy at him because it was so out of tune with the rest of the event. Of course I didn’t do that… but it was bad. Honestly if I caught his name, I would be naming and shaming…

Luckily all the rest of the keynotes and presentations were actually good to excellent.

The event finished with the Dj challenge taking control, because we didn’t have anything built I Dj’ed on my pacemaker along with the Alphasphere guys putting on a performance on stage. If we had thought about it a bit more, we could have Jammed together but alas maybe another time? Maybe at the Future Everything festival…

Congrats to the Mozilla crew, it was great and certainly a highlight. Mozilla’s mission is a good one and something we can all get behind. I was surprised how many people I know from Yahoo, Ebay, etc who are now working at Mozilla. Although it was very adhoc it kind of worked…

I look forward to next year…. Excellent work Michelle, Dees, Alex and a whole host of other cool Mozilla people. It was a honour…