SoundProp – Sound Effects with Processing & MIDI

Sometimes you forget to document things, and sometimes you try to get ahead of the game. Back around 2009 I was one of the organizers of Web414, Milwaukee’s Web Community Meetup, and at some point Gabe and I turned it into a live talk show. Yeah, I don’t know how we managed to do that, but… it happened. We had guests and we interviewed them, and even had a musical guest once! Anyway, one of the things I did was add sound effects to things because… well, I love that kind of shit. So yeah, my first “Sound Effect Board” was a web page on my web site I called ShowProp which used Flash to play some sound effects at the push of a button. (Still there, still mostly works. Here’s another silly web/sound thing from 2010, Evil-O-Mator.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, sound effects! Typically I was the co-host while Gabe was the primary host, so I would work the sound effects board at the appropriate (or inappropriate time.) It was fun.

And then I started messing around with Processing in 2010 and eventually started a re-write of ShowProp that would run locally on my computer rather than a Flash-enabled web page. (Flash is Dead! Sort of…) Processing is still very much alive, and I use it fairly often for creative coding, and hey, I figured since it’s 2020 it was time to update things.

I should mention that in 2019 I got my first “real” MIDI device, an Arturia Beat Step. A local synth guy was selling it for… wow, less than half the price of a new one. (I guess I got a deal!) I say my first “real” MIDI device because I’ve built them before, for myself, for museum exhibits, etc. but I had never bought a commercial unit before. Since I had this around, and I enjoy screwing around with MIDI, I dug into MIDI support in Processing, and…

I ended up redoing my old ShowProp sketch to be SoundProp, which is a Processing sketch that accepts MIDI input and plays sounds. It’s the second fanciest sound board style device I’ve used this year. (Yeah, I use others.) I also discovered the sound playing capabilities of Processing have greatly improved over the years, so that was an added bonus.

So basically, my sketch has a bunch of audio files, and each is mapped to a MIDI pitch which is sent by one of the 16 pads. Now, because it’s MIDI and not key commands it always works, no matter what application is in the front. No fumbling around to pull up the right window before you press a key or click a mouse. All the Sounds! All the Time!

The UI is quite minimal. It’s just a window that is 250 pixels by 130 pixels. I typically just launch the application and minimize it. (And hey, this will run as a native—well, Java—application on macOS, Windows, and Linux… in theory.)

If I get around to it I’ll clean it up and upload the code, and maybe create a video showing it work, though it’s not really that exciting, but hey… 2020, whaddaya want!?


Web414… A New Era


Web414, if you are not familiar with it, is a group of “web people” in Milwaukee that has been meeting for (roughly) five years, first gathering at the Milwaukee Web Design Meetup, and eventually branching off into a monthly meetup that’s been going on ever since.

For the first few years there was a core group of people involved, who were at pretty much at every meeting, took turns running the meetings, talking on various topics, and defining what Web414 is… or was.

Around 2009 Gabe and I started running what we called The Web414 Show, which was more of a talk show format than a typical meeting.

We had a good time, but we also worried that we were having a better time than everyone else. Eventually Gabe quit, and by then most of the regulars weren’t as regular, and I ended up hosting the meetings most of the time. Web414 became work, more work than fun, and while I still enjoyed it, I felt like it had changed quite a bit, and I wasn’t quite sure how to recapture the magic.

And through the years, more meetups and groups started appearing, many of them filling a specific niche while Web414 stayed more generalized, not being specific to any one language or technology. It’s true there were a lot of Drupal fans involved in Web414, but we dealt with WordPress, and Joomla, and plenty of other things as well.

I put together a presentation for the June 2011 Web414 Meeting which contains some facts, and a number of outrageous claims (in the name of good natured humor.)

View on SlideShare

I also made it clear to the small group that were at the May meeting that I’d be stepping down as the meeting organizer and needed someone else (or a group of people) to step up if they wanted the meetings to continue. Well, Dave Brixius stepped up. You can read his post on the topic over at Web414.

I’ll still be involved in Web414, and such things as BarCampMilwaukee, but those monthly meetings, as well as other aspects of Web414, will be handled by Dave and a team he’s putting together.

My hope is that Web414 becomes awesome again, and people get excited about it, and new things happen. My advice to you is, keep an eye on the new crew, and see what they can do. I know I will… :)

Audio Channel Uncategorized

The Maker Movement (Audio)

Web414 Matt Gauger and I talked about the The Maker Movement at the February 2011 Web414 Meeting. Here’s the audio in case you missed it.

Besides the history of the maker movement, and the modern-day rise of it, we talked about Hackerspaces and Makerspaces, how they may be similar or different, as well as some of the things that go on at a makerspace, and what type of people (and things) you might find at one. We also talked about our own place here in town, the Milwaukee Makerspace.

We really didn’t do a lot of planning for this talk, as we were filling in for someone with another topic who couldn’t make it, but I think that’s fine, and just goes to show that you really don’t need to prepare that much to speak at Web414, as long as you know the subject, and can speak intelligently about it (or fake it like we did) you’re good to go.

You can find the audio at Ourmedia or the Internet Archive, and you can download an MP3 of this talk.

Also, if you want to get all of the audio I publish automagically downloaded podcasting style, subscribe to the feed.


MilwaukeeDevHouse5 Time Lapse

Time Lapse Bot was at Bucketworks for MilwaukeeDevHouse5 on December 3rd, 2010. If you weren’t there, well, at least you can enjoy this video.

This video is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The music titled “cyber seeds” is from cypher tales via Jamendo and has a Creative Commons Attribution License. You can also find this video at as well as Vimeo. Enjoy!

Audio Channel Uncategorized

Web414 November 2010 (Audio)

Web414 Here is the audio from Web414 for November 2010 You’ll hear the intros, as well as our talk about MilwaukeeDevHouse5, 10 Minutes with Arlen, James Carlson talking about Open Atrium, and then Josh Dean talking about jQuery Mobile. (Warning: There may be an f-bomb or two in this.)

You can also download an MP3 file if you’d like. (And for our freedom loving friends, enjoy an Ogg file.)

Also, if you want to get all of the audio automagically downloaded podcasting style, subscribe to the feed.