Archive for December, 2008

Kurzweil PC361 : a challenger to M50 ?

Posted: December 31, 2008 in Audio

As Kurzweil provides audio demos of the PC1SE (1995$, 76 keys version of the PC1X, that features the same sound set – patches taken from K2XX series including all of the extension roms), a 61 keys model of the PC3 (the later includes 76 keys and is priced 2830$, and PC3X – 88 keys – is priced 3630$), the PC361, is expected for the January Winter NAMM09.
We can still read the first user review and see first pictures. It should onboard the same audio engine as the PC3, including its new Strings Section ROM bank that can be heard in the new audio demos. The PC361 price is unknown at this time but it should be kept in the 1500-2000$ range to remain competitive against the Korg M50 (950 euros for the 61 keys models, and as low as 1450 euros for the 88 keys model). However the strings sounds provided by the M50 seem way behind the new ones in the PC3 series (the M50 is better suited for rock and electronic sounds).
There is still to know if the K2661 (61 keys and priced 2995$) will remain listed.

Following NI, Ueberschall provides free samples for Christmas, Season Greetings and a great 2009. These 245 Mb samples for Elastik Player (also available at download for free) include loops from many libraries : Balkan Lines, Chillers Joint, Club Electro, Crunkzilla, Dancehall Madness, Electro ID, Hip Hop Underground, Loungeorama, Minimal Electro Vibes, Minimal House, Minimal Techno, Oriental RnB, Trance ID 2 and Urbanic. An audio demo is available.

ProTools 8 shipping

Posted: December 20, 2008 in Audio

ProTools 8, that was announced in October, is finally shipping. Only updates prices are available for now (144 euros for upgrades to LE8 and M-Powered8, and 240 euros for upgrades to HD8).

Rolando for iPhone available

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Games

The iPhone game Rolando, that generated huge expectation, is finally available at the AppStore (9,99$). We can still read a first review at AppleInsider.
First users comments are also reported by toucharcade. It seems well done and provides 36 levels among 4 worlds.

The site provides a step by step guide about installing OSX on a regular PC through the EFI-X USB key (150$). The only problem encountered was the video quality while playing movies with the DVD Player, however it doesn’t seem to affect all graphics cards.

The site speaks about OpenCL and expects a Snow Leopard preview at Macworld Expo (January, 5). Phil Shiller will showcase the keynote instead of Steve Jobs, but the later could come back for the Macintosh 25th Anniversary (the Twentieth anniversary mac that was presented during Apple Expo 1997 was in fact about Apple’s company creation date – and first computer -, but not related with first Macintosh, unveiled in January 1984).

Vue 7 Pioneer : free open beta

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Apple

Last October, e-on software presented two new versions of Vue d’Esprit 7 : a new high end version (Vue 7 Complete) at 599$ and an appealing entry level version at 50$ (that can be upgraded by buying additional modules – but it then costs more than the midlle Vue 7 Esprit priced 199$). Now Vue 7 pioneer is downloadable for free (open beta). No previous Vue d’Esprit account is required (but a Cornucopia3d account has to be created). Due to huge success, the servers are down.

We can also download for free the Kore Player, required to play these instruments (390 Mb – also includes 300 Mb of sounds).

Cyan announces the release of Myst Online URU live as open-source. The code, tools and data (textures, sounds, etc.) will all be provided :
all of us at Cyan and everybody that has ever worked on the creation and building of the dream called UruLive (a.k.a. Mudpie, Until Uru, MystOnline:UruLive and MORE) can not just let it die! (My definitions: “UruLive” is the original dream of the virtual world. And “MystOnline” is the current implementation of UruLive.)
So, Cyan has decided to give make MystOnline available to the fans by releasing the source code for the servers, client and tools for MystOnline as an open source project. We will also host a data server with the data for MystOnline. MORE is still possible but only with the help from fans.

Links to videos on Youtube are provided.
Cyan also confirms that they are working on an iPhone version of Myst : 
We continue to work on small projects (including Myst for the iPhone/iPod Touch), and it looks like we will only be

The MacOSX 10.5.6 update is finally available. We immediately notice that it is snappier (windows, minimizing), and after launching XBench (comparison with results from previous versions of Leopard) we discover that CPU performance is globally higher by 10 percents : in fact integer calculations (that count more and explain the 10% only increase) and vecLib FFT performances are the same, but floating point calcluations are 30% higher, and Altivec gains an even outstanding 50% increase, that gives it back the same result as with Tiger ! This last point was very important for audio applications, whose plugins make a heavy use of Altivec (now abstracted APIs – targeted to Altivec on PPC and SSE on Intel – that were renamed Accelerate framework in Leopard). So there is no more reason to keep Tiger for audio, and this fix demonstrates that Apple is aware of such details that plagged the old PPC under Leopard (there is to know if SSE4 instructions have also been used more efficiently in the Accelerate framework running under Intel).

Quartz graphic engine performance remains the same (was still 10% more efficient than with Tiger), and the user test interface still shows the same previous hit over Tiger, a two times longer delay to display the controls under Leopard. As the Quartz engine isn’t worse (is a little better), the reason is that Leopard puts more demand on it : windows shadows width have been at least doubled compared with previous OSX versions (in order to be more visible by Windows VISTA users – the later added such over present effect). These shadows (dynamic) are computed by OSX with a huge precision (since the first version). Moreover the mirror effect used by Leopard Dock may add even more work (perhaps some precaching, besides the existing double buffering).

When launching Safari it appears far more quick at opening windows and rendering pages. Apple may have updated the WebKit framework, or it might use the Altivec for some processing (that isn’t intended for such task).
The Finder (whose version is numbered aside) jumps from 10.5.6 to 10.5.8.

At forums (a site that id dedicated to Oric Atmos, and whose name comes from an old well-known game), a member explains he succeeded porting Oric assembly games to C (the resulting code is based on the crossplatform SDL library), through a semi-automatic process : 
I disassemble the game then I convert it to C using a custom awk script. Then I try to make it compile, and work.
It’s not possible to handle JMP outside procedures automatically. goto instruction only works within the procedure (and there’s no such thing as a procedure in assembler, specially in the eighties ).
Sometimes code must be duplicated/rearranged. Delay loops must also be patched as well as the inputs. So a minimum of understanding of the game inner workings is required.

And about some particular issues :
how to handle self modified or auto-generated code ?
You cannot handle SMC. There was none in Xenon or Zorgon’s, but there was some in Zebbie and I had a little trouble with it. But it was rather easy to find by hand. (But I could detect it by marking the non-data sections and checking them when I write into the memory at run-time). 

We can then download conversions of the following games : Xenon 1, Zorgon’s Revenge (the sequel), and Zebbie.
We can also look again at these old games (and download tapes images for emulators) at

I would be pleased if the author added a Axayacatl port, as I could then do an iPhone port from the C code produced (the iPhone version of MAME still uses SDL, and even without that we may be able to map SDL APIs to iPhone SDK Cocoa&C APIs).

FluidMac, the editor of Chopper for iPhone, speaks about the complex dynamic progression of applications on the AppStore Top100, and their related prices :

…how does a developer get their app into the top 100 and stay there? Well, The best way is having a really good product that gets the press it deserves. This is still the biggest factor (as it should be), but is way too close to the second best way: Look stupidly cheap compared to everything else.
Any developer who has dropped the price of their app will have seen the difference in sales it makes. $1.99 to $0.99 wouldn’t make any difference on most platforms, but because everything is already so stupidly cheap, it can double sales… or more. Double the sales at #101 and a day later you’re at # 70 with 4x the sales. At 4x the sales you’re at #50 two days later. It’s a feedback effect until everyone else drops their prices too, and you end up back where you started.
…As a result, I am more inclined to take small risks. A small 2 week project, priced at $0.99 has more chance of paying for my time than a 6 month project priced at $9.99. The quality of applications available on the App Store is nothing compared to what it could be. iPhone users are missing out on the $15.00 apps that could change their lives.
… a precious few developers will work hard and long to produce fantastic apps that will be low yielding, under priced, and motivation destroying.

Prices appart, the AppStore must faces (now it has reached the 10 000 apps step) the same problem as ranking system, as I recently said.