Monthly Archives: August 2006

Rosegarden progress

Despite the early frustrations with Rosegarden, I’ve actually made some significant progress. By reading the great but simple tutorial on UbuntuStudio on how to set up things like JACK in Ubuntu, I am now able to use Rosegarden with the included synth plugins to actually play .wav samples and sequence it to resemble something that a some people would call music. In other words, I’ve actually managed to do pretty much the same thing I used to do on my real synth (a Roland W-30). I recorded some of the samples of an old song I wrote ten years ago on the W-30, and sequenced them using similar sound effects (mostly reverbs and delays).

However, I’m sure there are easier ways of doing it, because I’m forced to use separate MIDI tracks (and synth plugins) for every sample .wav file I’m using. On the W-30, I could load several samples and assign them to different keys on the keyboard. Don’t know how that stuff works in Rosegarden. Also, I have yet to figure out how how to e.g. control the plugins through the sequencer (for example, dynamically change the cutoff frequency of a low-pass filter plugin), so everything is pretty static. In other words, the filter doesn’t change over time during playback, unless I do it manually while the song is playing. On the W-30, I could control the filter slope through MIDI instructions. If you’ve ever attempted to create techno/trance music, you know how important filters are. There’s hardly any song not making extensive use of them, or any other dynamic effect for that matter.

Anyway, I’d like to say thanks to the author of UbuntuStudio. If it wasn’t for the tutorials on that site, I would probably have given up and installed Reason instead.

Gotta love helping people with Firefox problems

Here’s a mail conversation with a fellow Firefox user. Let’s call him George:

George:

first of all i would like to say i do give donations to mozilla. with that beign said, i would like to know 2 things:
1-every single day for the past 10 days i am interuppted with new firefox updates, and have to stop what i am doing and restart firefox again, is this something new? i never had to do this before!!!!!
2- where did the loading bar ( at the bottom ) disappear to? once it was there, now it’s gone. Please Reply, George

My first response:

1. You didn’t say what version of Firefox you’re using, what operating system you’re running, whether or not you’re logged in with administrator privileges, if you’re the only user of the computer (another user could be logged in at the same time, thus hindering Firefox from updating the files needed to be updated).

2. I don’t know what you mean here. I see a status bar at the bottom of the screen, with a small progress bar appearing every time a page loads.

Btw, if you really do donate to Mozilla: great! But I personally don’t care if you do or don’t. It’s certainly not the reason why I replied to your message. Please understand that I don’t work for Mozilla, and I’m not an expert of it either. I just happened to write some of their documentation a few years ago as my way of contributing to their work.

George’s reply to my mail:

i am using firefox version1.5.0.6.. i am running windows xp, yes i am loged in as administrator..i am the only user. there is not a status bar or progress bar at the bottom of my screen. btw-if you don’t know why i have these problems, is their someone that does.
thanks, drew

My second response:

I’d advice you to visit the Firefox support forums at http://forums.mozillazine.org. To be frank, I’m not sure how you found out about my e-mail address without also being aware of the forums. The only page on the net with my e-mail address listed is http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/contact.

Maybe a reinstall of 1.5.0.6 would solve the problem?

/ David

Here’s George again:

because you listed yourself, how else would i know…i see why you dont work for firefox..bad additude!!!!!!

My last response:

How is my attitude bad just because I point out the obvious on the contact page?

“I am not a Firefox developer, and I am not a Firefox expert either. If you have end-user questions about Firefox itself (not this site), please visit the tech support forum.”

Despite that, I chose to respond to you personally to try to help. But instead of being thankful, you start accusing me of having a bad attitute? I’m sorry, but the one with the bad attitude is you. All I did was trying to point you out to the forums because there are literally thousands of people reading it every day and I’m sure someone will be able to help you.

Don’t worry, I will not try to help you again.

/ David

George:

go jump in a lake. i don’t have time for kids!!!!

Create music with Rosegarden in Linux? Impossible.

I’m annoyed. I’ve spent the whole evening tinkering with Rosegarden and after four hours I still haven’t managed to connect a MIDI note to a sound! Has anyone used this before? As a nerd, I feel insulted when I can’t master an application after so many hours of googling, configuring, and tweaking. I just want to learn very basic (or so I thought) things like selecting a number of wave files and play them as sounds on a virtual keyboard/synth, and specify the velocity, pitch, sustain, etc. on each note. It really shouldn’t be this hard to get the thing to work. I want something like Reason or FruityLoops, but on Linux.

I grew up with a Roland W-30 with a sampler/sequencer, built-in low-pass filters and an Alesis QuadraVerb Plus. That’s about what I want to do: play samples (.wav files) in a sequencer, and apply effects such as echo on them. Can Rosegarden do that? Then please tell me how because I’m completely lost!

In Rosegarden, I was able to create notes, define its velocity and stuff like that. In other words, I was able to use the sequencer. But I simply could not connect these notes to an actual sound, except for MIDI sounds such as “Grand Piano”, etc (which btw didn’t sound at all; completely mute). There was the possibility to load a sound wave by dropping it on a track, but that’s not what I want since the MIDI events were still disconnected from that sound file. What I want is to select a .wav file to be played using MIDI notes and events, with the ability to pass the sound through filters and effects that can be controlled through control events as well (to allow filters to change over time, for example). I read about synth plugins, but I couldn’t figure out how to load any. I tried to load one of the sample songs “Children”, but it complained about XSynth not being loaded. I’m suspecting this is part of the reason why I couldn’t get this to work.

Maybe I’m ignorant, but I thought most musicians did the same simple thing, at the very least: selected a good sound (drum, base, some flute, or whatever), played it using different notes using a sequencer, and then processed the sound through different effects (echo, filter, etc), but appearantly Rosegarden seems to deal with just sequencing MIDI events, then it’s up to plugins to actually generate any sounds from the notes played. Plugins that are hard to configure and are nowhere to be found. Just for the record, I have been reading up on Wikipedia about things like JACK, LADSPA, DSSI, and other relevant bits required to connect this Lego-like framework.

Looks like I’ll have to resort to Windows and proprietary software after all. :(

WengoPhone 2.0 promising, but memory hungry

I downloaded and tested WengoPhone 2.0 beta today. While I was impressed by the fact that it offers free IP-telephony and basic chat support for MSN Messenger, AIM/ICQ, Yahoo, and Jabber/Google Talk–all in a Free open-source application–I was shocked by its memory usage. As I’m running an aging Dell Inspiron 8500 with 512 MB of RAM while developing software in Visual Studio 2005, memory usage must be kept at a minimum.

Currently, I use the Google Talk client (for IP-telephony and it’s sexy user interface) and Miranda IM (for basic MSN/ICQ/AIM support). Here is a memory usage comparison between these three clients:

miranda32.exe: 7096 KB
googletalk.exe: 13 472 KB
qtwengophone.exe: 44 956 KB

So, it turns out WengoPhone uses twice as much memory as Miranda IM and Google Talk put together! Is this the result of using the Qt framework, or is it simply because of poor coding practices? While WengoPhone sure looks more feature-rich than the other two clients, it’s mostly just a matter of menu items and widgets that calls external commands. You begin to wonder just how many features WengoPhono keep constantly loaded in memory as opposed to just loading them when needed (and unloading afterwards).

New Blog Design (Again) Coming Up

While I liked the previous design created from the flower photo I took with my new camera, it was a bit too dull, blurry and noisy. I’d rather have a theme with sharper edges and a not as integrated title image to go with it. This time around, I’ve got help from a professional who will help me creating the new blog theme. I even get to say what I like and not like about the drafts! Thanks Curtis for helping me with this!

Comment spam protection (and WordPress theme problems)

I installed a WordPress plugin called SecureImage that helps protecting against spam by forcing commenters to enter some random numbers and letters, making it harder for spammers to get through. The plugin seems to work fine, but for some reason it won’t work with my customized theme. It works for the first comment, then when the comment poster is recognized, the graphics with the random characters doesn’t appear and you get an error when trying to post. Until I’ve found the reason for this misbehavior, I’ve switched back to the default WordPress theme.