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We don't spend all of our time on technical books and computers. Even geeks have lives after hours. As it turns out, there are a few musically inclined folks associated with O'Reilly--some as moonlighting professionals, some as talented individuals expressing their artistic urges.

Thanks to MP3 technology, you can peruse a spectrum of tracks from O'Reilly musicians, and even download any you like along with a custom O'Reilly skin for your MP3 player. Read on for a little background on O'Reilly artists.

Sara Winge

O'Reilly Director of Public Relations and Songstress of Terra Nova

In her day job, Sara Winge is the maestro of the O'Reilly media message. After hours and on weekends she switches from "leading the band" to actually playing in one. She's the vocalist, guitarist, and sometimes percussionist of Terra Nova, a San Francisco Bay Area folk music group whose musical genre she describes as "spacebeat": a mixture of acoustic worldbeat rock.

Terra Nova crafts its eclectic folk sound through a fluid array of experimental instruments--ever hear of a waterphone? udu utar? sonic ray?-- along with more traditional instruments such as guitars and violins. The experimental instruments are so unique the band features them on its Web site with photos, descriptions, and sound samples. The band prefers live performance to allow each song to evolve as a work of art, never quite the same way twice. Terra Nova likes to invite guest musicians to join in, and the band frequently embellishes tunes with spur-of-the-moment, makeshift instruments. The fact that Terra Nova practice session jams frequently meander into recorded tracks makes the MP3 format especially ideal. The band is self-producing its first CD, Groundswell, by recording in several different home studios and mastering tracks on a beefed up Mac system.

Terra Nova

Sara spent her childhood singing in choirs and taking piano lessons. She and her husband, fellow bandmember Chip Dunbar, have played in the folk music community for more than 10 years, meeting up with Terra Nova's other core members: Ted Dutcher, Peter Van Gorder, and Greg Jalbert. They were all part of the string stringband Hijinks before forming Terra Nova about five years ago.

Sara's professional background is as colorful and varied as her band's musical tastes. Before landing at O'Reilly in Sebastopol, California 5-1/2 years ago, she held jobs as an employment counselor, furniture finisher, firefighter, substitute teacher, and director of the management assistance program at the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, acquiring a master's degree in management from Sonoma State University along the way.

Jonathan Knudsen

O'Reilly Java author and Keyboardist-Composer

In addition to the time he racks up at a computer keyboard writing his monthly Bite-Size Java column for O'Reilly and cranking out books on Java, Jonathan Knudsen likes to spend time on a few other keyboards: the piano and synthesizer.

He began taking piano lessons at the ripe old age of 5 and, like most kids, didn't really care much for it back then. Programming in BASIC on a TRS-80, and later on a Commodore 64, overtook his musical interests for a while. But upon receiving his first electronic keyboard at age 12, he came back to a deep appreciation of the piano and its expressive power. In high school, he spent a lot of time composing and recording music using several keyboard synthesizers, adrum machine, a four-track mini studio, and other odds and ends. He also squeezed in a couple semesters of computer music while earning his mechanical engineering degree at Princeton (and managing to graduate cum laude).

With three kids under age three and another one on the way, Jonathan still tries to keep up his piano playing. Chopin and Brahms are favorites. Sometimes he accompanies his wife, who shares his love for opera, especially Puccini. Look closely through one of Jonathan's top-selling books, Lego Mindstorms, for sample programs to build a Lego robot that sings "Quando men vo" from Puccini's La Boheme.

Jonathan spent three summers working at AT&T's Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey--a place where experimentation reigned as the modus operandi. When he wasn't working on a project to make Nintendo GameBoys communicate over an ISDN network for head-to-head play, Jonathan enlisted a friend to dabble in synthesizer sound recordings. Though his synthesizer is relegated to boxes in the basement for now, Jonathan revived some of these tracks on MP3 by cobbling acable from a tape deck to his computer. He used a program called GoldWave to record the sound, and BladeEnc to handle the MP3 encoding.

Ellie Volckhausen

O'Reilly Designer and FLexie Frontwoman

Actually, Ellie Volckhausen is one of two lead female vocalists of the band FLexie, whose "trippy, trilling vocalizations" are one of the Boston alternative rock band's hallmarks. And when Ellie is not designing one of O'Reilly's distinct animal book covers, she is most certainly with the band either rehearsing or performing. In fact, Ellie designed the O'Reilly MP3 player skin available for downloading from this site.

Ellie joined O'Reilly in Cambridge, Massachusetts last April as a contractor and the gig turned into her first full-time job. Up until then, she always preferred working as a freelancer to follow her music. She loves working for O'Reilly now as it gives her more of a balance and because FLexie is well-entrenched in the Boston area.

Ellie Volckhausen

She grew up in a family of musicians; her mother is a flutist, her dad an organist. Ellie herself started singing in choir at age 6 and playing flute at age 8. The venue of her musical childhood included Caracas (Venezuela), Hong Kong, and music camp every summer in Maine. She played classical flute through college, then after a brief interlude away from music after graduating from Vassar, she fell in with another Boston rock band. When that group disbanded, Ellie and the guitarist traveled abroad as a performing duo (Girl and Boy), making a decent living selling tapes and busking through Ireland. Busking, or street performing, "is the most direct economic transaction you can have as a musician, because your audience hands over cash." The experience taught Ellie to be comfortable in front of any audience in any circumstance. "You have to be entertaining because if people get bored, they just walk away."

FLexie formed about four years ago, when she returned from her travels and was invited to join an impromptu studio jam session with another band. FLexie has played the nightclub scene ever since in Boston, New York, and throughout New England, as well as Los Angeles.

FLexie

"My whole life outside of work is music," Ellie says. "Instead of socializing, I like to rehearse and record. It's a change of pace but at the same time free and spontaneous. There are no rules. You don't have a client; you just do what you want to do." Fellow band members Richard Marr, Chris Willett, Brett Fasullo, and Rosie Huntress are her family and her best friends. "It's like being married to four people." Rosie is in fact Ellie's cousin and the band creatively makes the most of familial traits that surface in their duos. "We're on the same wavelength musically and it works very well for the band."

FLexie is about to release its first CD soon, tentatively titled "Viva." Bandmember Brett Fasullo devised MP3 file encryption technology for their tracks, a side interest that has ballooned now into an Internet startup, Digital Media On Demand, backed by one of the investment firms behind RedHat Linux.

Mike Loukides

O'Reilly Technical Editor and Classical Pianist

Mike Loukides is the O'Reilly editor of many Java titles, but his passion extends to computer architecture, networking, sysadmin, UNIX, and Brahms. The same meticulousness that Loukides brings as an editor and author to titles like System Performance Tuning and UNIX for Fortran Programmers is expressed artistically through classical piano.

Loukides left a job as a technical documentation writer to join O'Reilly in 1990 as the company's first official book editor. His academic credentials include a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in English literature.

Other than the occasional recital for friends, his study of piano is for personal pleasure. Loukides works out of a home office on the Long Island Sound. He set up a simple recording studio to monitor his progress at the keyboard, and methodically experiments with tweaking hardware components and acoustic variations to obtain the best sound. These efforts, chronicled in highly technical email prose to fellow employees, are offered in juxtaposition to mellifluous interpretations of Brahms and Bach.


Mike Loukides pushes the MP3 encoding envelope and reports his findings in High Bit Rate MP3s.

Loukides has played piano since he was eight years old, studying in recent years under several faculty members of the Yale School of Music. He's also a "passable organist and harpsichordist," and dabbles with other instruments, including the mountain dulcimer and guitar, though none of these have found their way into MP3 recordings yet.

Mike's wife Judy is both his editorial assistant and an occasional vocalist on his tracks-although they find it difficult to record these joint artistic pursuits without the unexpected input of three-year-old Alexandra.

Craig Smith

O'Reilly UK Regional Sales Manager a.k.a. "Smithy"

In technical book publishing circles of southern England and Ireland, Craig Smith is recognized as O'Reilly regional sales manager. But his other persona, online and among his friends, is "Smithy," self-styled musician and webmaster for the Sound of Young Huddersfield, a web site devoted to the music of bands hailing from Smithy's hometown.

Smithy has been with O'Reilly UK since December 1998, but he's been making music since he learned to play the recorder as a primary school lad. While he has what he considers "very base competence" on a range of instruments, his first love is drums. He started writing songs at age 15, with musical influences including Lo Fidelity Allstars ("though you wouldn't know it to listen to these demos"), Spiritualized, Belle & Sebastian, Public Enemy, Dusty Springfield, and Walker Brothers & Felt.

Craig Smith

Being a technically literate kind of chap, he created the music on his MP3 tracks using a PC running a Cubase sequencer to trigger an outboard sampler/synthesizer set-up. He also uses a Rebirth soft synthesizer on occasion along with other bits and pieces of his "kit," including effects boxes, an SP202 phrase sampler, compressors, a Gina sound card, Recycle, a CS1X, a Boss DR202 and a Joe Meek C2. "And then I sing over the top of it!" Smithy says. "I have played many a gig as a drummer but not many as a vocalist. I love doing it but I prefer the recording side of it."

Steve McCannell

O'Reilly Network Associate Producer and Songwriter-Guitarist

Steve McCannell may well be the one O'Reilly employee whose musical pursuits have converged with his day job. Due to his extensive recording background, Steve was hired on as a Web producer/audio specialist for the O'Reilly Network in anticipation of future plans. He is also a songwriter and musician with his own publishing business, Lost Dog Found Music. He recently sold some of his material to Z-Games, a Disney Channel show.

Steve McCannell

Steve writes material primarily for Tammy Martin, a country pop vocalist whom Steve is promoting through his business. She's the voice on his MP3 tracks. He started writing songs as a teen, also picking up guitar and piano. Then a friend with a home studio introduced Steve to recording. He was hooked. He's recorded more than 100 of his own songs, some as a California State University, Chico music major where he refined his recording art in the professional studio on campus.

When he wasn't recording or teaching himself HTML in college, Steve played with a band, Steel Toe. The group has long since disbanded, but a few moderately successful recordings are still floating around the Internet. Playing in a band was fun, but Steve wants to focus on songwriting. "Right now I am busy recording and shopping music to the industry, making as many contacts as possible, and hoping that all of my hard work will eventually pay off by gaining a music publishing contract."




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