Author Archives: muesic


John Coltrane and music math

Here’s a fascinating article that starts with a diagram Trane drew to support is compositional structure, and draws a parallel with Albert Einstein’s mathematical thinking. One of the great beauties of music is that the more you explore, the more you learn there is to learn. This post opens a whole rabbit hole of musical composition, theory, and physics.


Music in dreams

The other night I dreamt that I was walking past a building, and I could hear someone inside, practicing the piano. After a while I recognized the music as part of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. I’ve never heard anyone but Glenn Gould’s recordings, and this was different.
How does the brain create unique music in a dream?!?!?!
Have you experienced anything like this?

Normally I dream visually, not aurally.  Now I’m fascinated by the notion of creating unique renditions of familiar music (or creating unique music!) in the subconscious mind.
Share your thoughts. message me at peter@zongles dot net


Remember the Kate Bush song and video “Cloudbusting” from 1985.  The video features Donald Sutherland as a scientist who builds a rain-making machine, and Kate as her son.  The authorities take the scientist away from the machine and the son.  I was reading the Uncut magazine feature on Kate, and was surprised to learn that it was based on the true story of Wilhelm Reich, who was imprisoned in the US for his promotion of ‘Orgone accumulators’ and the cloud busting device.

About a week later, my partner Liz introduced me to Characterology, a system of character reading with 5 basic character types closely aligned with modern notions of needy, unwanted child , controller/psychopath, perfectionist and masochist,  Liz had studied this extensively when she was attending the IM School of Healing Arts in New York. Imagine my surprise to learn that this was by the same Wilhelm Reich, who had been a star pupil of Sigmund Freud.

There’s a very well-written and modern explanation of Reichian Characterology here:  When I say modern, I mean it includes recent notions such as epigenetics explored in the book “The Biology of Belief”, by Dr. Bruce H. Lipton.  Be sure and read the pages on the five different personality types.

Kate’s video is here

.  there’s a scene where she finds a book in Dad’s pocket – “A Book of Dreams,” by Peter Reich.  The video was directed by Terry Gilliam – former Python and director of Brazil, Time Bandits and more.

You can learn more about the video here:

You can learn more about Wilhem Reich and his thoughts on Wikipedia (of course)  and  and He believed in a sort of cosmic energy he called orgone energy.  This was supposed to fuel the cloudbusting device.  His interest in human sexuality and the orgasm helped spawn the sexual revolution, but also got him locked up by the Food and Drug Administration.

I won’t go into his beliefs about UFOs here.

His influence in pop culture is immense, including the role model for Barbarella’s Dr. Durand Durand, and the Orgasmatron in Woody Allen’s Sleeper.

When you start to peel the onion, you find many many layers and many unexpected connections.’s.html


The Internet of Stuff

Let’s talk about the Internet of Stuff.

You might hear it called the Internet of Things.  It used to be called Machine-to-Machine Communication (M2M) but that’s not sexy.

What is it?

The Internet of Stuff is people (and companies) being able to monitor the status of remote, mobile or hard-to-reach devices.  When I put a Linquet or Tile bluetooth tracker on my dog, Fritz joined the Internet of Stuff.  When he wanders out of the yard, I get an alarm on my phone and the hunt begins. My electric meter communicates my hourly usage to the electric company without a meter reader coming around.  An oil company will have thousands and thousands of remote meters and alarms connected to wells, pipelines, valves and more.

Why now?

Machine-to-machine communication has been around for decades, but it used to be hard and expensive. Every application had to be written individually.  Every device had to be configured and set up with a wireless connection, which required an account, and maybe a SIM…

And if something broke in the field, you had to replace it with a new device with a new number and a new account, and configure it, and update your systems…  what a headache!  Now multiply that headache by thousands.

Mobile phone companies like AT&T Wireless and Bell Mobility spent twenty years watching their subscriber base, and revenues, grow and grow and grow, and as they reached 100% penetration, they asked themselves, “How will we grow our revenues once everyone has a phone?”.  Well, they had the bright idea of selling more than one mobile device per person (think tablet computers and cars with built-in internet/phone), but to really juice up their revenues they needed something more.  So they started aggressively pursuing M2M.  They got better at creating attractive billing systems. They realized that M2M accounts have nearly no churn or bad debt – that once you sign them up they just keep working, and paying, and often use very little bandwidth, in very predictable fashion, so they’re cheap for the cellular companies to maintain.  So the phone companies started to drop the per-device costs.

Simultaneously, wireless chip companies like Qualcomm and Sierra Wireless were improving the integration and configurability of devices, and including better System Development Kits (SDKs) so that the programming and configuration cycle were simplified.  Companies developed generic end-to-end solutions or else combined off-the-shelf subsystems into readily usable systems so users were closer than ever to one-stop shopping.

Two more recent innovations really kicked IoT into gear:  the Cloud, and big data.

You have thousands of devices, all over the place, submitting reams and reams of data.  No human can possibly sift through it, but if you have HUGE computing power, HUGE data storage and HUGE data transmission capacity, then you can slice and dice it and squeeze information out of it.  and that information is HUGEly valuable for companies.  the cost of storing and processing data offsite can be very attractive compared to maintaining an on-premises data centre, with personnel, air and power conditioning, physical and logical (network) security, physical off-site backups and more.

Why is everyone so excited about it?

Now that the pieces are in place, so many companies are discovering IoT solutions to their distributed environments.  As costs and complexity go down, return on investment goes up.  It becomes practical to do a test deployment with partial functionality before rolling out a full deployment.  The big data aspect opens up huge possibilities — electric companies doing time-of-day discounting is an obvious example.

Why did it suck before?

M2M used to be hard and expensive.  If  you look at the classic buyers’ objections, they’re all there:

  • It’s hard to build
  • it’s hard to configure
  • it’s hard to manage
  • it’s expensive
  • There’s no one-stop shopping and I have multiple vendors to deal with
  • Too many invoices
  • I’m locked into a single vendor
  • I’m locked into a technology that may not have a future.

Companies that succeeded in selling M2M solutions were able to present a compelling business case.  Companies that implemented M2M devoted significant manpower and capital to doing it right.

If you made a major bet on a particular technology, you could face huge costs in future.  General Motors thought analog cellular would be around far longer than the lives of the cars and trucks it was putting on the road with OnStar.  well, AT&T Wireless pulled the plug, and all the vehicles still on the road needed to get a new GSM OnStar kit, or the Safety-of-Life features were rendered useless.

In the last fifty years, exciting things have happened.  Computers got smaller and more powerful.  Standards pushed aside proprietary systems and protocols.  Wireless and wired telecommunications became cheap(er) and more ubiquitous.

The three most important things in communications are:

  • digitization
  • packetization
  • compression
  • standards

Ok.  that’s four.  the first three are the driving *technologies* but the fourth item is hugely important.  I can’t understate how important it is for people, and companies, and countries, and industries, to agree on common protocols, or standards.

So what do I know?

What are my credentials?

Well, I was involved in some early M2M deployments starting in 1992 on the Canadian and US Mobitex Networks.  I built and operated an international GPS/GNSS receiving network for Rx Networks (you don’t ever want to be in the position of saying, “Jeremy, could you please fly to Tierra Del Fuego ASAP because the server there is hung”).  My dog Fritz does indeed wear a Linquet bluetooth tracker.

How can I play?

You can try out the Internet of by buying a packet of Linquet bluetooth trackers at You can buy kits and find sample applications in, for instance, the Arduino/Raspberry communities.

Or you can call me and I’ll help you get going in the Internet of Stuff.


Audiophile Recordings

So you love music.  You have a record player.  You cherish your old records.  You go to the last record store standing and you buy used records, and occasionally you even spring for a brand new vinyl record at a chain store.


But where do you go find NEW excellent music records?

Check out this fascinating article about the state of audiophile records:  The Absolute

Now excuse me.  I have some shopping to do.


Obitumentaries and heroes

The other night I was listening to a radio obitumentary about Glenn Frey and the Eagles.  It was very interesting, but I found myself thinking about our obsession with the musical heroes of our past.  It is natural for us to have a special attachment to the music we listened to when we were teens and young adults, because, well, because that’s the way the brain works.  We were (more) emotional and impressionable and that music quite literally imprints itself on our brains and souls.


What is not natural is for us to stop listening to new music; to stop finding new musical heroes.  I believe there is nothing intrinsically better about the music of our youth compared to “today’s music”, any more than our parents’ music was superior to ours.  Well, maybe Duke Ellington.  We decry beat-making and Auto-Tune the way our parents decried synthesizers and drum machines.


So let’s learn to accept that music should and must be constantly evolving and reinventing itself, and listen with open ears and hearts to the music being created today.  Best of all, we should be going out to clubs and halls and listening to current music being played live.  Very best of all we should be singing and playing together. Let us embrace new heroes.  We can be heroes, just for one day.


Computers and linux and quotation marks

I put this site together as a demonstration of my wordpress ability.
Compare with which I generated by hand.

One of the fun (or vexatious) things about linux, and related technologies like bash and sed, is the importance of quotation marks.
When I was creating this site, I edited a php file by hand, and the whole site broke.
I used a language-sensitive editor to find the error of my ways. I had inadvertently used the ‘ mark instead of the ‘ mark.
That’s  really hard to see when you’re editing by hand, but the language-sensitive editor changes the colour of text depending on the context and it’s easier to see when things are different.

So learn your punctuation on your way to becoming a great web monkey.