Dave Conway Piano





Guild Wars 2:

Tomato Yesterday




2016 Year in Review, on Goal-Setting, and Plans for 2017

02 January 2017 18:25 EST under
Lengthy Reads, Life

In a single semicolon-separated list of independent clauses: 2016 was shit (except when it wasn't); set smarter goals; get a preview of my plans for 2017.


State of the Union, December 2016

04 December 2016 11:09 EST under
Life, Music

Uh, hey. It's been, what, like six months? Seven? I'd way we're marginally overdue for a little State of the Union address. If you want the short version...the good: I'm alive and well, I have my piano back, and I'm definitely returning to streaming at some point; the bad: the piano took forever to come back, work sucks right now, and it's been keeping me from doing the things I want to do pretty hard for a few months now. If you want the long version, read on.


Why Your High-End Piano VST Still Sounds Like Garbage

10 February 2016 05:45 EST under

Sometimes I listen to YouTube and just let "autoplay" do its thing and take me where it will. This morning I moved quite randomly from Kapustin into Prokofiev and this started playing:

Update: turns out the video was deleted, so, uh, no more video.

Within a handful of seconds I knew I was listening to a fake piano, and the video description confirmed it. It's very faithful to the score, the "pedaling" is handled well, the voicing is great, but it just sounds bad almost immediately. Why?

The answer has nothing to do with the VST, actually. The video above uses Synthogy's Ivory piano, which, if you do a quick YouTube search, can sound really fantastic. Largely indistinguishable from a real piano, frankly. No, the answer has everything to do with performance. It's quite obvious that these short works were sequenced note-by-note:

All of this unnaturally perfect stuff combines into a performance that sounds, well, wholly unnatural. Even the best pianists in the world do not hit every note in their chords at the same microsecond, or play a "perfect" run in terms of absolutely equal note durations. It's not possible. But the sum of these tiny imperfections is what makes a performance sound human.

Now, that said, maybe the example above isn't the best: I'm sure there's more that can be done to make the VST itself sound better, but the real point is that its immediately jarring sound comes from the nature of the "performance" itself, and that's why even high-end fake pianos frequently sound like garbage.

Request page updates, mobile page coming soon!

30 November 2015 06:39 EST under
Development, Site, Twitch

In an attempt to make my sheet music library a little easier to search on my stream's request page, I've removed the disgustingly long, poorly sorted composer/arranger dropdown fields and put auto-complete fields in their place (and on the title search field, as well):

I probably could've implemented an existing autocomplete library in fifteen minutes, but I figured I'd spend part of the Thanksgiving weekend rolling my own for fun (and JavaScript practice) while watching Kate play Xenosaga. If you stop typing for half a second (after entering three or more characters), all potential matches for the search query pop up, and you can navigate them with the mouse or arrow keys, etc.: pretty standard stuff. The "smart" filtering that minimizes server hits needs a little optimization, but other than that, I'm happy with the results. And it's really easy to pop one onto any text input field, which will be nice in the future.

It is, however, being a little finicky on mobile: tapping a suggestion closes the results pane but doesn't actually fill in the control it's attached to with the value that was selected. No idea why, but the page blows for mobile users as a whole, so my next project is to create an entirely separate mobile page for making requests. The number of people watching the stream on mobile seems relatively high, so it's the next obvious move.

Kate has plenty of hours of Xenosaga left to play, so...hopefully it won't be too far in the future before it's here!

I Figured It Out, People: An Ageist Epiphany

12 November 2015 05:13 EST under

I work on a rather anachronistic piece of web-based software: we just added support for Internet Explorer 11! Before that, your only option was Internet Explorer running in compatibility mode. Chrome? Firefox? Safari? What are these far-future enigmas?

Because of this, I use Internet Explorer daily, and because I use Internet Explorer for nothing outside of work, I have never changed the homepage, which is set to msn.com by default. So every morning, I see a list of news headlines from the Associated Press at the top of my browser, and I generally click on a few because I do (admittedly casually) follow American politics.

Bizarrely, every single article's comment section is oversaturated with far-right conservatives spewing hackneyed sound bites and reveling in their use of the nickname "Obummer," as if they were the Hierarch of Unfathomable Genius who coined it.

Regardless, I've always been less concerned with the content of these comments than their origin. How did MSN News become such a bastion for the far-right, even while the news articles themselves were originally written by the AP, which, while not entirely free of bias, is certainly better than many other news agencies?

Well, it just kind of came to me this morning. The only people getting their news from MSN are people who have it thrust in their faces because they're on msn.com. And the only reason people end up on msn.com is because they're using Internet Explorer and haven't figured out how or bothered to change their homepage. And who uses Internet Explorer? People who suck at the internet. And who sucks the most at the internet? That's right: OLD PEOPLE. And what are old people? DISPROPORTIONATELY CONSERVATIVE.

Case closed, boys and girls. (I realize I'm probably ten years late to having this dawn on me. Maybe I'm getting old?)

Major Request System Bug Fixed

06 October 2015 06:24 EDT under
Development, Site, Twitch

For awhile now, people have been complaining that random requests from the library will just hang forever for them while others go through perfectly fine. For the longest time, I could not figure out why this would be, but I finally did some digging last night, uncovered the issue, and fixed it.

The issue was that if you had already requested a work from the library, subsequent requests would not go through. This is due to me being a shit-tier Python developer and thinking I can just concatenate strings and integers all willy-nilly with no repercussions. :)

Anyway, you all should be good to make repeat requests to your hearts' content now!

I Was Right About FFXIV:HW and Now the Rest of the World Is Finally Catching up to Me

15 September 2015 10:07 EDT under

Hey, remember when I wrote about how shitty Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward's endgame is? I do. To refresh your memory:

  1. Horrible pacing of gear progression
  2. Everyday content is incredibly boring
  3. There is no middle-difficulty content

I have additional updates to this list, as well:

I brought all this up a couple times on the FFXIV subreddit, but it was largely shot down with "you're a crazy person all content is relevant and amazing and perfectly paced and you're dumb yadda yadda". Heavensward was widely critically acclaimed. So what the hell am I missing?

As it turns out, nothing. God, I'm great.

As it continues to turn out, I just took off the blinders and my Hat of Rampant Fanboyism a little bit earlier than most other players did. When I hopped into the subreddit yesterday, I saw this thread sitting at the very top. More importantly, I saw a lot of people coming in to voice that -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- Heavensward is a big old pile of poo that's so boring it can't even make the effort to stink.

And it was while I was reading that thread, an appropriate way to succinctly vocalize my disappointment with the expansion presented itself to me:

Heavensward is meant to be an expansion to a game, yet all it's accomplished is making me feel more limited in my options as a player than ever before.

Of course, there were a slew of comments along the lines of "well, A Realm Reborn had a boring endgame when it first launched," and such. I'm so fucking tired of seeing this form of shit-apology, so to those who employ it, I proffer Dave's Law of Cyclical MMO Shittiness:

A game's having set a precedent for any form of shittiness cannot be invoked as justification for a years-down-the-road return to the same exact shittiness, especially when the game has, in the intermediate time period, proven that it can transcend said shittiness and reach a state of awesomeness.

This is like when people defend a 2015 title for not having now-standard MMORPG features by saying that World of Warcraft didn't have those features at launch. Bitch, it is not acceptable to use the at-launch state of an eleven-year-old game as a reference point for acceptable MMO feature-richness in 2015.

Anyway, someone who stapled the aforementioned Hat to their head wrote a competely nonsensical rebuttal to the first thread, and a bunch of HW white knights came and, well, white-knighted it. The tl;dr there is essentially "you getting bored with a game and a game being boring are not the same thing." It's a stupid semantics argument that holds no water to begin with, since something that is boring induces boredom, and since not everyone has boredom induced unto them by the same things, the state of "being boring" is entirely subjective anyway. So, yes, to a large number of players, Heavensward is boring. Period.

The silver lining of this rebuttal, which basically amounted to complete disregard for Dave's Law of Cyclical MMO Shittiness, if you can even believe that, is that a user named Ayrikka posted a top-tier smackdown of each of the rebuttal-poster's talking points, and illustrated in no uncertain terms how and why Heavensward is so massively underwhelming.

If you're a frustrated FFXIV fan, it's all worth reading.

But, most importantly, I was right, and now I'm gonna shout it from the rooftops of my blog to all zero of you who are willing to listen.

Why Tidus Is Ruining FFX for Me

14 September 2015 08:22 EDT under

I'm actually a pretty shit-tier Final Fantasy fan if you go by the games in the series that I've completed, a collection which comprises the following Roman numerals (one with an Arabic numeral modifier): I, IV, VI, VII, XIII, XIII-2. But in the spirit of rectifying that, I'm playing through the FFX HD remaster. I'm about twenty hours in right now.

So far, there are several flaws with this game, but there are probably more things that it does well. But that's just in terms of quantity of good and bad things. There is one bad thing that is so miserably bad that it is totally ruining this game for me so far: the protagonist, Tidus (or, if you're playing my save file, "Tydiss").


Upcoming Stream Features

03 September 2015 13:56 EDT under
Music, Twitch

I've been streaming for a solid three weeks now, and have been getting great feedback and a lot of solid requests as I slowly build a follower base, so I just want to let you guys know what's coming up.

Also I'll just go ahead and mention now that I have fixed the issue in which the radio buttons for the easier/exactly/harder difficulty comparison options on the requests page were invisible. Simple case of "this worked in Firefox, so it must work everywhere" derpery.

All right, then. Stuff you guys keep asking for:

Save past broadcasts: done, as of Tuesday, 01 August 2015. Twitch did mute my first saved video during, of all things, my playing a Chopin Nocturne, which has to have been public domain for close to 100 years now.

Show what request you're currently playing in the stream window: definitely coming. I guess for now I could do a simple window capture of a browser with my site open and crop it to the queue area, but I'd like to have a legit solution to this at some point, probably using an auto-moderator like Nightbot to also announce the start of works in chat.

Make custom chat commands: I'd love if people could request straight from the chat window by using !request <title> or !request <url> or something, and it would just pop it straight into this site's queue. I'd also like a "!nowplaying" that would give request info, etc. What custom commands would you like to see?

Put videos on YouTube: I'm going to start using the weekends to record videos of myself playing your requests and my own works that I'm comfortable with putting out there in permanent form. They'll all be up on this site, too (which desperately needs music).

Add a tip/donation feature: I'm shocked that people want to give me money, but, hey, I'll take it! Looking into this right now; it'll be coming soon.

On an unrelated note, the Tuesday and Thursday afternoon streams have been turning into requestfests in the same vein as the Monday and Friday evening streams. I'm going to have to work harder to weave 10-15 minutes of practice in-between every request on those days in an attempt to make sure I get closer to my goal of actually recording the Final Fantasy album that I'd like to put out.

And I need to find time to compose new stuff, still...

Request System Success!

25 August 2015 05:34 EDT under
Development, Site

With the exception of a one-character sort order bug, the request system worked great on its maiden run last night! Thanks to everyone who helped me test by making requests!

Changes made:

  1. The request queue now shows the oldest first, not the newest.
  2. Library search filter dropdowns now sort items alphabetically (by last name for composers/arrangers, by difficulty level for difficulty).
  3. When searching the library by title, you can now hit "enter" instead of having to click the "Search" button.
  4. When searching the library by difficulty, you can now specify "or easier," "or harder," or "exactly."