Archive for February, 2011

PublishMe is a Wysiwyg HTML site designer made using Cappuccino, that then (as Atlas did) allows live preview from the designer/browser. It can be launched by clicking the Create Publication link from that site. Many publications can be managed, and each one can include many pages (buttons above the pages list allow to create, copy or delete pages).

Apple provides to Mac Developer Program subscribers a preview of MacOSX Lion. No details are available yet about a new Finder (except Launchpad, full screen mode and Mission Control), nor about enhancements/completion of some foundation technologies (Quartz GL, resolution independence, Grand Central), however the dedicated ADC page presents the following new features :

– new Aqua widgets (popovers, overlay scrollbars), Multi-Touch and animations (higher level APIs than Core Animation), derived from iOS.

– AV Foundation : new time-based (not exactly realtime) and high level (Objective-C) framework to manage audio and video (abstraction to Core Audio, Core Media and Core Animation).
We could then expect a new audio engine for the next version of Logic (it is due this summer, probably a few weeks following MacOSX Lion’s release), as it has been said it wasn’t initially intended to manage so many time-based constraints (despite latency generated by third-party plugins – PLAY for example – is often the cause to overload).

– Auto Save and Versions : automatic save (using increment) of files for document-based applications, with a Time Machine like interface to browse the versions.

– Applications state save and restore after relaunch or restart.

– Sandboxing and Privilege Separation (complementary to existing signing technology).

– File Coordination : eases concurrent accesses (from different threads) to files.

Apple did not state performance improvement with new Intel HD3000 chipset (found on entry-level new MacBook Pro models) over the previous NVidia 320M, and only stated that performance is up to 3 times higher with the new ATI Radeon HD 6750M dedicated card (found in the high-end model – 1 Gb of DDR5 -, the Radeon HD 6490M with 256 Mb of DDR3 found in middle model not being as fast) compared with previous Nvidia GeForce GT 330M dedicated card found on older middle and high-end MacBook Pro. Moreover the new middle and high-end models use a quad core processor (Core i7 at 2,2 Ghz) instead of the dual core i5 processor (2,53 Ghz or 2,66 Ghz) found on the olders Macbook Pro.

The new entry-level MacBook Pro isn’t then faster for gaming than the previous one (Intel HD3000 chipset ranks 154th and Nvidia GeForce 320M 129th) or the June 2010 mac mini. However the new Core i5 based entry-level Macbook Pro (2,3 Ghz) brings Turbo Boost 2.0 and Hyper threading (compared with previous 2,4 Ghz Core2 Duo).
It may then be faster with single threaded applications (the single activated core speeds up to 3,4 Ghz) or with applications that use at least 4 threads (performance will be similar with two-threaded applications). Result will then rely on Grand Central enhancements in MacOSX Lion.

Thunderbolt / details and announcements

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Apple, Audio

New Macbook Pro have finally been unveiled today (and are available at the App Store). Apple presents details about Thunderbolt technology, that it has been working on with Intel in order to speed up its release : it provides two 10 Gbits/s channels (that is twice USB3 throughput) and daisy-chaining of up to 6 devices (including Apple’s displays as it manages both PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols).

Intel also presented the new data transfer technology as well as industry support. Among companies that have announced Thunderbolt compatible devices (or are planning to release some) are LaCie, Western Digital, Apogee and Universal Audio.

Apple announced a special event that will take place March, 2. We expect the presentation of iPad 2, and the release of new MacBook Pro fitted with Lightpeak transfer technology (renamed Thunderbolt by Apple, and whose connector is similar to mini display port).
Last June mac mini wasn’t then the real/full revolution, and Firewire 800 daisy-chaining problems on Snow Leopard with PLX chipsets (that acquired Oxford) are less likely to be fixed. This would explain why Apple didn’t have used USB3 nor Firewire 3200 in recent macs, and had been waiting to jump directly to the next technology, as they did 12 years ago with Firewire.

Impossible Mission for Oric / Oriculator

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Games
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A developer from site provides an Oric Atmos version of Impossible Mission game (inspired from C64 version). We can download it here and watch a video. Its sequel (Impossible Mission II) was an addicting game (also frustrating) on Atari ST.
We can also find an Oric version of Stormlord, and finally Space:1999.

A recent Oric emulator, Oriculator, is available for MacOSX.

Kontakt 4.2.2 update

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Audio
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The 4.2.2 update to Kontakt 4 (full version/player) is available. It can be downloaded through Service Center (480 Mb). It brings the following new features :

New binary file format for increased saving/loading performance
– New zero-latency convolution engine with optimized performance for low-latency settings
– Revised master output section with presets and advanced macro functions
– Numerical parameter value input for all knobs
– New Import formats: Akai MPC 5000, Alesis Fusion, Drumagog, Korg Triton, Roland Fantom, Yamaha Motif
– Mac OS X: 64 Bit VST support
– Mac OS X: 64 Bit support for Rex import
– Resource Container for efficient library handling
– New KSP syncing commands

iTunes Store : soon 24 bit

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Audio, Music / Movies
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The iTunes Music Store may soon provide 24 bit encoded songs (that is the standard for mastering these days, and it had also been used in 90s for some albums/compilations of some famous artists (a 24 bit to 16 bit dithering was used for CD media).
However it still won’t be lossless, and as stated in a comment the better headroom (additional dynamic range left for mixing before clipping) – noise floor not being anymore a problem with converters these last years – is of few use since music editors keep maxing out the level (using a compressor).

I indeed had to use a limiter to rise MJ Style’s album audio level (a compressor would have produced a pumping effect if applied after the original mix’s reverb), in order to ensure it being close to other songs at the iTunes Store. The result was a somewhat mechanical sounding beat for snare (levelled due to the use of a limiter).

Omnisphere 1.5 update

Posted: February 19, 2011 in Audio

Spectrasonics provides Omnisphere 1.5 update. It brings new synthesis features (10 oscillators) new Orb controller, Omni TR remote application for iPad, and includes 8000 patchs. We can watch a video at Youtube.

FM8 1.1 : public beta

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Audio
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Following a public beta of Massive 1.2 (64 bits) late December, Native Instruments provides a public beta of FM8 1.1.0 (64 bits) for registered users.

Adobe provides final version of Flash 10.2, that brings hardware accelerating of H264 video decoding (through Apple’s Video Decode Acceleration Framework) when using some Nvidia chipsets (9400, 320M and 330M) and then uses 3 times less processor resources (is now as efficient as Quicktime). With ATI card the acceleration isn’t fully optimized, so it still uses two times more processor resources than with Quicktime.

Playing a 360p video directly at Youtube site, the Flash plugin (separate process on Snow Leopard) uses 11,5 to 12 percent CPU resources (15 to 20 percent at start when buffering) on a 2010 mac mini (2,4 Ghz, Nvidia 320M chipset), and Safari uses between 4 and 5 percent CPU.
With same video played from toucharcade site (the page contains a lot of other embedded Flash videos), the Flash plugin uses 35 percent resources.

I still believe in music / Roland

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Audio
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To compete with recent piano samples libraries (that contain up to 80 Gb for a single instrument), Roland had to develop modeling techniques to allow :

– smaller samples size and count (notably sustain/decay and resonance ones), since they do not use hard disk and they have to load patch quickly (only Korg uses SSD and fast loading technology in the new Kronos, or Kontakt 4 that only loads samples start initially, and then remaining parts in background)

– better playability/expressiveness (progressive/natural tone change – no more distinctive samples layers switch -, better dynamic) and more homogeneous tone.

This technology, SuperNatural, reminds Roland’s L.A synthesis found on D20 and D50, that was based on short samples for attack, and oscillators for sustain (in fact the limited memory at that time was the real reason, and Korg worked it out a year later with the M1, that brought longer samples and multisamples).

These samples finally allowed more creating interesting/original sounds/effects (thanks to their aliasing) than providing realistic reproduction of acoustic instruments, with the exception of drawbar samples, that were really usable looped ones (contrary to the other looped samples versions).

There is to note that V-Piano does not seem to even use samples for attack (full modeling instead), contrary to RD-NX300/700 and FP-7F.

Roland seems then back with innovating (see I believe in music).