BaWaMI (revision 130)

Posted on 2016-03-02 at 21:22 in Music, Programs.

This update lets Bawami write WAV files in paths containing non-ASCII characters (something long-overdue), and fixes a bunch of complicated interwoven bugs related to the handling of “bad” MIDI files and of percussive notes. There’s also a load of other fixes, including for portamento-related bugs, crashing in /translator mode, and visual fixes, and a couple of new instruments.

You can grab the latest version from here (7.81 MB), and see details of the changes below the page break:

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Random Old Rubbish (Part 2)

Posted on 2016-02-29 at 02:25 in Random, Videos.

The second and much-shorter part, as I clear out some random rubbish in my room. There are a few more old electronic devices, including a ~25-year-old LCD game, plus some paper stuff…

[Watch in HD]

This time, I didn’t throw away or dismantle everything in the video! I did thoroughly rearrange whatever remained afterwards, though.

Server that actually looks (and sounds) like a server

Posted on 2016-02-28 at 00:57 in Videos.

I was recently with a friend who runs a server which is a lot more impressive than mine, so I thought I’d show it off. It also sounds like a jet engine.

[Watch in HD]

For a start, it’s actually in a rack-mount case (2U), with ~17TB total disk capacity and 20GB of RAM (it usually has about 24, but he had to remove some to use in another machine, hence the sticks of RAM lying on top of the case). It’s running a few VMs for people (with Arch Linux as the host), acting as a NAS, and doing a few other things like running some IRC bots, but he shut it down and rebooted it so that I could hear the fans rev up. =D

Random Old Rubbish (Part 1)

Posted on 2016-02-27 at 02:27 in Random, Videos.

I was cleaning out my room and found a load of random stuff (mostly toys), and some of it was interesting, so I decided to record it. Some of it’s around 14 years old. I didn’t intend for 50% of the video to be about Beyblades.

[Watch in HD]

Stress-test Audio CD

Posted on 2016-02-15 at 07:00 in Random, Videos.

Never mind just gapless playback – let’s throw 99 tracks at various CD players (hardware and software) within 40 seconds and see how they handle it!

The music I used is “Nature’s Gasp” by Atmozfears & Devin Wild. Big thanks to Atmozfears for letting me use it on YouTube (now let’s hope that YouTube’s automatic song recognition doesn’t punish me despite that…).

[Watch in HD]

This test just naturally emerged after I played around with splitting tracks in a hardstyle mix for seamlessly playing on a CD. The trick to ensuring no silence between tracks was to split on CDDA frame boundaries (every 2352 bytes, which makes 75 per second for audio CDs). It took me some time before I realised that Audacity can measure position in CDDA frames and that I didn’t have to convert the number of samples into CDDA frames myself every time…

I don’t have a grudge against Foobar or anything – it really did get stuck in a loop of spinning up and down the CD the last time I tried it. Also, this may be my most anticlimactic and rushed ending ever.

Multi-strike, multi-pass, colour correction (WIP: Dot matrix program)

Posted on 2016-02-10 at 20:08 in Programs, Videos.
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Showing off a couple more things not possible with the Epson driver: multi-strike printing and “quiet” (not really) mode, along with CMYK colour correction which is nearly invisible to my camcorder, so that part was a waste of video…

This is a program I’m casually working on every now and then to print images on any 24-pin ESC/P2 dot matrix printer (ESC/P2 is Epson’s control language for their dot matrix printers). It directly controls the printer by sending raw commands to it; you just need to tell Windows that it’s a “Generic / Text Only” printer on Windows, not using the official Epson driver, and Windows will pass the commands straight on to the printer without trying to translate them.

[Watch in HD]

This is a standalone program for printing image files, not a driver for printing from any program. I’ve not yet released it, but I intend to some time. Compared to the driver, it currently allows:

  • Printing in (lower) resolutions for high speed (down to 60 DPI).
  • Detailed control over colour dithering/thresholding.
  • Very tall print-outs not restricted to a paper length (e.g. for continuous paper).
  • Printing only individual component colour(s) of an image.
  • * Faster colour printing by doing large blocks of each colour at once.
  • * Multi-strike printing (optionally offsetting each one to fill in the gaps between the earlier ones’ dots).
  • * “Quiet” (multi-pass) printing (unfortunately, I can’t control the actual speed).

*The last three are somewhat “hacks”, abusing commands to try to force unofficial behaviour, and as such, they rarely work properly in combination with each other. In particular, the last two often don’t work when printing colour.

By the way, printing in blocks of colour is no longer done by relying on sending commands with the correct timing (as it did in the previous video), which means it’s now much more reliable and doesn’t get messed-up by pausing the printer, image content, etc.

Solar Panel Microphone (Experiment)

Posted on 2016-01-31 at 18:41 in Random, Videos.

Here, I conneced a solar panel (via a transformer) to a sound interface as if it’s a microphone, to reveal the subtle pulsing and filckering of various light sources. If you don’t like 50 Hz, this video isn’t for you.

[Watch in HD]

Thankfully, the infrared light from my camcorder is apparently very clean (not pulsing), so I can use that to see things in the dark without affecting the sound.

The transformer is just designed to convert 230V AC to 12V DC, so its audio properties are not very good (it muffles things a lot). Ideally, I’d be using an audio transformer that’s designed to sound good, but this is all I had available. I am using it to remove the DC current that the solar panel makes, because I don’t fancy putting 17.5V into my Quad-Capture (sound interface)’s mic input. I originally tried to make a high-pass filter to remove the DC, using a capacitor and resistor, but it only worked until the capacitor became fully-charged, at which point the sound faded. It was much clearer-sounding than the transformer, but there was also a huge amount of background noise.

I want to revisit this idea in the future, especially to take it for a drive at night, listening to the street lights and car lights (since modern cars use PWM to dim the tail lights).

BaWaMI (revision 129)

Posted on 2016-01-17 at 11:14 in Music, Programs.

This is a nice big bunch of fixes – mostly related to /console-mode, but a couple of more serious things (which affect more people) are fixed, too.

You can grab this latest version from here (7.87 MB), and see details of all the changes below.

General bug fixes

  • Fixed bug where button to browse for a new MIDI file remained disabled after opening a MIDI by dropping it onto the main window.
  • Now recognises when a filename is passed on the command line without speech marks (and without any command line parameters). This fixes the problem of Bawami not opening a path+file containing no spaces if such a file was dragged onto its icon (or if Bawami is associated with .MID files), because Windows does not automatically surround such a path+file with speech marks when passing it to the program.

Fixes for when using /console

  • No longer crashes if you’re redirecting Bawami’s output to a file or other program.
  • When using “/infolevel 2“, log file text is now sent to StdOut instead of (accidentally) to StdErr.
  • “Finished.” is now (always) displayed when shutting down.
  • Key prompts for answers to questions are now sent to StdErr instead of StdOut (as was already being done for the question’s title and message), so that they’re visible on the console even if you’re redirecting Bawami’s StdOut to a file.

Visual-related fixes

  • Green “settings” button’s tooltip is now loaded in the chosen language (instead of having no tooltip) (broken in revision 128).
  • Corrected Z-order of several controls on the config window so that the dotted border that indicates a control that has focus isn’t having one of its horizontal edges cut off unnecessarily.
  • Corrected a reference to how green “settings” button appears in info.txt.

Logging (also affects text shown when using /console /infolevel >=1)

  • No longer shows “Closing MIDI input port” when shutting down, if MIDI-in wasn’t in use.
  • No longer shows “Decoding absolute timings” a few lines after the last track has finished being decoded.

BaWaMI (revision 128)

Posted on 2015-12-14 at 05:26 in Music, Programs.

This version includes a whole load more bug fixes, plus some serious support for running Bawami from the console (command prompt), which also guarantees to never display message boxes, along with several other fun new command line parameters.  It should also start slightly faster (less writing to log file, and some language files are now only loaded when they’re needed), seeking to a different playback position is easier on the ears, and there’s a bunch of safeguards added to the code related to writing OGG files. A few command line parameters have been renamed to make them less long-winded, they all begin with a slash instead of a hyphen now, and Bawami now lets you know exactly which ones it didn’t understand (if any). But despite a lot of work being focussed on command line parameters, there are several GUI-related bug fixes, too!

NOTE: In order for Bawami to be able to output to the Windows console (command prompt) when using /console option, the EXE file is now compiled as a console-mode program. Annoyingly, this causes a console window to appear for a brief moment before Bawami’s main window appears. However, this doesn’t slow anything down; it’s only for part of the amount of time where, previously, nothing at all was displayed.

You can download the new version here (7.87 MB). Full details on all of the changes and bug fixes are below, but allow me to first introduce a new feature of Bawami:

The /console command line parameter

bawami /console /stdmidi 2020

If you run Bawami from the command line, this option should be very useful, and is highly recommended instead of /invisible. Text is output to “standard output” (meaning you can see what Bawami’s doing in the console), and you can respond to any messages by pressing keys on the console, too. In this mode, Bawami also starts faster and is safe to crash in the middle of playback (nothing is leaked – but for now, make sure that you also kill the OGG encoder if you crash it in the middle of writing an OGG file). Just for fun, you can also view every single raw MIDI message scrolling up in the console as it plays (/stdmidi) , and use /infolevel 1 or 2 to get a more in-depth look at exactly what’s going on internally. Of course, these options which spam text to the console will slow Bawami down a bit. Please check the “COMMAND LINE PARAMETERS” section in info.txt for full details, and see below for an overview of all changes/additions.

View all changes below the page break:
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Inside a Sony HDR-SR12 Camcorder

Posted on 2015-12-12 at 02:03 in Images.

Since my camcorder’s HDD is finally giving up (after about 5 years), I took the opportunity to open it up and take a look inside it – and, of course, I took a bunch of photos as I went along. I did not delve deep inside it because I intend to keep using it after replacing the HDD, and I didn’t trust myself to remember how to put it all back together, but hey, I thought some people might think that it looks cool.

I didn’t make a video, because it was such close-up photography that I had to use a macro lens most of the time, and lighting was such an issue that I had to have my camera’s aperture fully-open. This means that the depth of field was extremely shallow, which would’ve been extremely annoying in a video (95% out-of-focus), and, to top it off, the lens doesn’t even have any image stabilisation, so it would’ve been motion-blurred, too. A YouTube video would’ve been cool, but for now, please enjoy the photos!

24 more photos are below the page break!
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