Using the Adafruit Arduino MIDI sequencer OONTZ in Windows

After building the OONTZ I thought I would put together a quick how to on using it in windows. As the OONTZ is a MIDI controller it does not make an sounds on it’s own you  will need need some kind of software, Any DAW (digital audio workstation) will do this but they tend to be a bit expensive there are a few good inexpensive ones out there but I thought I would show a quick and fee way to start playing with the OONTZ.

I will be using something called a VST (Virtual Studio Technology) and VST host this is a good one named VSTHost. A VST is a plugin that is a kind of virtual electronic instrument like a synthesizer, drums or an effect like echo. A VST host is a tool that will run the VST. There are lots of good free VSTs as well the one I am running is called A Window to Europe  that I found on In my next post I will go over how to record and maybe make a whole song.

VST host








Book Review Classic Game Design From Pong to Pac-Man With Unity


Classic Game Design From Pong to Pac-Man With Unity

I have read well over 100 books on programming and this might be the best one! Granted it is on a very cool topic but it is still a book with pages of code and explaining how that code works, but to be excited to start a new chapter or to be glad to get back to reading it. I don’t know can a book on programming be called an on the edge of your seat page turner, I think this one can.

You will learn how to use Unity 3D game engine, learn how to make sprites using GIMP, make game sounds with Audacity and all of the tools needed are FREE.

Most books on making video games tell you to use the art and sound included on the disk (this book has all the files you need to make the games) but where is the fun in that I want to make the game look and sound like the way I want.

This book is a must for someone who wants a good foundation for making video games I am 100% positive after going through all the lessons you will be able to make a classic style game on your own.

This is a Sample of one of the games you can make


Ad blocking in Windows 8 RT Internet Explorer 10

I have been using my Microsoft Surface RT for quite a while now and one issue I have had is not with windows 8 it has been browsing the web can sometimes be frustrating mainly because of all of the adds on some sites. I believe the reason for this is lazy programing on the part of those who develop the banner adds on the web. I do not have a problem with ads on web sites, that’s how many writers make money this is a great article on ads and making money on the web.  My issue is when the ads make it imposable or extremely hard for me to read the content I cam to the web site for in the first place. Many people my self included thought the Apple was crazy for not supporting flash on the iPhone or iPad but when you see how flash can bring a mobile web browser to it’s knees the decision seems like a good one. For better or worse Flash works just fine on Windows RT except for some poorly written ads. Here is a good way to fix a lot of those issues.

(this will work for all versions of IE 10)

First tap the ‘Desktop” tile on the Start screen. open Internet Explorer from the task bar and tap the small gear in the upper right hand corner.
then chose Safety then Tracking Protection
This window will open
Tap the link to Get Tracking Protection online
A new browser window will open with different tracking protection lists I used Abine’s Standard and EasyPrivacy.

Just tap on add. They will not show up in the Tracking Protection list until you restart Internet explorer.

This will block a lot not all of the ads even in the IE you use from the start screen.

Of topic thoughts on NSA wiretapping

Sorry for the second off topic article, I will get back to electronics soon, but I have a few things to say about the recent news on the NSA whistle blowing. I started following this bit of outrageous news back in the winter of 2006 after reading a  Slashdot post that linked to a post on Boing Boing  about the Electronic Frontier Foundation suing AT&T over providing the NSA illegal wiretap that provided access to millions of Americans communications.

My main interest at the time was to laugh at how incompetent the attorneys for AT&T had been in their lame attempt to hide text in a PDF by using electronic black lines that could be easy removed with the correct PDF tools. After reading more I then started looking and found this CNET article (part 2 is here)listing other telecommunications companies that were also providing this information. I kept waiting for some major news outlet to pull a Woodward and Bernstein and blow the lid off this causing the American public to be outraged. The world would finely see how over reaching the USA Patriot Act was and demand action, it never happened.

The folks in authority would say “if you have nothing to hide why worry?”.

So the NSA kept getting 90 day extensions and we all flushed our right to freely communicate.

Recently we have had news of “Unprecedented Chinese Hacking”. Back in 2010 there was news about Google email being hacked but what was not well explained was what the Chinese where truly after. They wanted ….. the data that had been gathered for the NSA wiretapping and they got it.

The document that brought this all to light

XBox One Tech reporting is nuts!

This is going to be a bit of a rant on a trend I have noticed. Ever since the XBox One announcement the crazy speculation on what the thing will or will not do is out of hand. Today I read this bit of “writing” stating in the headline  “Microsoft may award achievements for watching TV and ads by monitoring you with Kinect” but in the second sentience says this “As an application, the patent doesn’t provide any definitive evidence that Microsoft plans to bring TV achievements or viewer monitoring to the Xbox 360 or the Xbox One” but then the writer goes on to spout more and more nonsense. Look at this gem “We already know that the Kinect can be configured to monitor motion, depth, and audio data in its range — indeed, the peripheral will even listen to you while it’s turned off”. Maybe I need to explain a bit here the new XBox One has a “low power mode” that has the Kinect powered on enough to listen for you to tell it to turn on with a voice command but this is NOT OFF the XBox One has a power switch that you can use your finger to shut the device OFF.

Now I know that Microsoft did not give this Tech reporting site a free XBox so maybe that’s upsetting for them.

What I find most upsetting is that the writing on this site can be extremely good taking on important topics. But does The Verge need page views so much that it thinks it’s OK to write this sort of thing?

Picking on one Tech site may not be fair as this article is one of many examples of writing one thing then two days later writing oops, maybe that was BS I just made up but look at all the comments we got for that crap I wrote. Or even better adding “Update” to an article days after everyone has read it and moved on never to see that “Update” letting everyone know that thing that got you pissed off was wrong.

Shen Kuo – Introduction to Geekdom, Historical Geeks

Shen Kuo

4. Shen Kuo (1031-1095)

Shen Kuo was not born into wealth or status, but through the Imperial Exam was able to test into a career as a bureaucrat. He rose quickly and served in the Imperial Chinese ministry as a diplomat, military commander, educator and head of the astronomy bureau. After being blamed for military failures, he was placed under house arrest. He put this time to good use, pursuing his studies, including creating two atlases for the government which helped him earn him a pardon.

Like all of our Geek historic heroes his interests were far and wide—geography, astronomy, engineering, strategy, pharmacology, mathematics—and his achievements and improvements involved magnetic compasses, a petroleum-based ink, and a raised-relief map. His magnum opus, the Dream Pool Essays, cataloged his own observations and the earlier achievements of Chinese technology such as canal engineering, moveable type and advances in mathematics.

Alhazen – Introduction to Geekdom, Historical Geeks

Visual system of Alhazen

3. Alhazen (965-1047)

One of the great figures of the Islamic Golden Age, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (you can just call him Alhazen) was born in Basra, Iraq but traveled throughout the Middle East. Using the scientific method, he explored and wrote on the fields of mathematics, engineering, physics, philosophy, engineering, theology and even the effect of music on animals.

Alhazen was so well-regarded as a man of great knowledge that he was called to Egypt by Al-Hakim, leader of the Fatimid Caliphate to construct a dam to prevent flooding near Aswan. Realizing that he didn’t have the skill set for this particularly difficult challenge, he feigned madness and was kept under house arrest until the death of Al-Hakim some ten years later. During this period of confinement, he was able to work in peace and avoid the punishment that would have resulted from his failure. Self-preservation for the win! This was the period of his life where he completed his most influential work, a seven-volume treatise on optics. He died many years later after researching, traveling and teaching, living the geek dream.

Hypatia – Introduction to Geekdom, Historical Geeks


2. Hypatia (?370-415)

As the daughter of the last librarian of the great Alexandria library, this Egyptian Geek had access to all the knowledge collected within and the scholars who studied there. She edited and annotated others’ works and then wrote her own treatises on mathematics and astronomy.

She is thought to have invented the hydrometer (which measures relative density of liquids) and charted stars and planets. She was known as a great teacher and defied many gender boundaries by moving freely in previously male only settings. Of course, her influence and outspokenness on matters of science, religion and more dangerously, politics, led to her being seized by a mob, stripped naked and murdered in the streets of the city. She has inspired free thinkers, articles and many a science fiction writer. Her name and memory live on in fiction by Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Umberto Eco and Marcel Proust, in an essay by Carl Sagan and even as a character in an episode of Doctor Who. She is the namesake of an asteroid belt, a crater on the moon and even a genus of moth.

Aristotle – Introduction to Geekdom, Historical Geeks


When you have over six thousand years of recorded history, choosing ten exemplary Geeks will certainly be just skimming the surface and leaving out many notable names. There are also many anonymous Geeks who never got proper notice—the person who figured out how to use a wheel to make everyone’s work easier, the Geek who paid close attention to what was edible and what was poisonous by using the scientific method of observation (of others getting sick) and let’s not forget the devoted brewer who figured out fermentation (imagine the trial and error on that one!).

Each Geek chosen here led a relatively long life for their era and made sure that they received some measure of recognition.  Geeks for all of their supposed lack of social skills (more of a nerd thing, really) do want to get noticed.  And the long life comes from keen observational skills matched with enough good sense to avoid dying as a hero. So in the spirit of learning how it is done, let’s meet our oldest school Geeks.

1.  Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

Aristotle was first and foremost known as a student.  Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle.  To continue the chain, Aristotle was tutor of Alexander the Great and his successor Ptolemy at the Royal Academy in Macedonia and of the elite youth of Athens at his Lyceum. He helped to preserve the knowledge he had acquired from those who preceded him and then went on to fill in the gaps and instruct his influential students.

Aristotle set up to understand not only the world of the mind but also the physical world that surrounded him.  Mathematics, astronomy, physics, medicine and zoology were observed, examined and theorized into whole new orders.  Some of his ideas evolved into our current understanding, some shaped our understanding of logical arrangements of life forms into kingdoms and smaller groups, and some of his ideas were proven to be wildly off base.  What makes him a geek is that he set out to find out answers and develop theories on everything.