January 29th, 2009

Fun Waste of Time

If I have my choice, I really prefer to record music with my computer. I have a kid though (and a job), so sometimes I don't get to play around with it until late at night when my little girl is asleep. So I have fun with other things. Here are some of the things that I love to kill time with. I am only listing free stuff, as the act of finding good free programs is in itself a fun way to waste time.

DrawIt Lite
The first is a program called DrawIt Lite. You can edit pictures, draw and do graphics with it. Kind of like a cross between Illustrator and Photoshop, although a very limited version of it. But you can actually accomplish a lot with it. I can't imagine that most people would actually need anything more than this. I did the picture below in like 45 seconds. It could certainly look a lot better, but I haven't bothered reading the manual; and I just wanted to put a picture up so that you would get the idea. There is a "pro" version, but I went the the free "lite" version. Here's the link:


Then there is a program called Paintbrush. It's Open Source, which I think is super cool. You can have a lot of fun drawing things with it. If you have one of those USB tablets, you can sync it up with the thing and get much better results. I don't have one; I did the drawing below with my finger on the scrolling area of my laptop. Very simple, it was really easy to get started on this app. Here's the link:


This is silly, but fun to play with. You basically take a picture that's on your computer, and drag it into the Polaroid camera. You can shake it around and get some weird results. This is a picture of my daughter that I ran through it. Here's the link:

This one is addictive. Watch the video above to see what you can do with it. You basically just start moving things around and watch what happens. You can get pretty in-depth with it. I can't wait until my daughter is old to play around with this one. If you search this app on youtube, there are a million videos of what people have done with it. It's also available for PC, if you swing that way. Here's a link (highly recommended):

RGB music lab
This is on the geekier side of things, but fun for anyone. Basically you load a picture into it, and then it reads the red, blue and green pixels and converts them into music. The notes are determined by the colors in the picture, and you can determine how loud they get, what instrumentation to use (up to 6 instruments), and what the intervals will be. I love using this and dragging the file into another project on Logic. After I do that, I'll edit out the crap, and save the good parts. Here's the link

Here's a link for an online Theremin. You need to have something like Wiretap Pro, or Soundflower to record the thing, if you want to use it in a music project that you may be working on. I used it in this song I did called Kyoto Glitch. I basically recorded a bunch of the theremin and then manipulated it in Logic, added some glitchy stuff, a toy piano i found online and then played a cello and a kyoto over the top of it. I made the glitchy stuff by running an audio file of a thumb being run over a comb through Supertrigga. Here's the link for the song:
here's the link for the Theremin

Pimp Your Mac
You don't really need any special software for this. Basically you just search around online for icons to replace the ones that come stock with your computer. I got the ones I used from this site:
It's really easy. Basically you go to the application that you want to change the look of, hold down control and click once. Then you choose: get info. A box will open on the left side of the screen and it will tell you about that application. There is a picture in the top left hand corner of the box, and you just drag the new icon on top of that picture. That's it, changes automatically. Sometimes you can't get something to change unless you're some kind of programming wizard (like the finder, and your trash cans). In that case you can download Litelcon and it will do it for you. you just drag the icons you want to change into it and hit refresh. I've changed pretty much everything, apps, folders, drive images. I especially love my trash can, my ichat icon and the icon for itunes. You can do this on PC too, but I don't know how. Here's the link for the program I just mentioned:


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