Thursday, October 15, 2009

Field

Field looks like a really interesting piece of software. It is step on from Processing, providing a richer IDE with features like embedded editing widgets. I haven't used it in anger yet, and it is still beta, but it looks promising. There are apparently 6 years of work in there so there must be a lot more than meets the eye!


What I also like is the implementation philosophy that other libraries and technologies should be embraced and integrated, rather than rewrite everything. It appears that Field provides a wrapper around other technologies and allows time coordinated use of them. The screen shot about shows the canvas. Left to right is the timeline and the boxes represent things going on.

It will be interesting to use the editor and experiment with the embedded widgets. I've thought about a similar concept for my Guish project, where you'd have interactive GUI elements mixed with text that you enter, like in a terminal. Pure text terminals see really out of date now, and it's about time there was some suitable graphical enhancements.

Other pieces of work by the Open Ended Group that look interesting are Breath, which explores different graphical representations of music, and Musical Creatures, which explores digital creatures that can interact with their environment.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Toneport on Snow Leopard

UPDATE (25-Nov): Please read: 4.2.5 beta drivers are available.

I managed to get my Toneport UX2 working on my (2009 Intel) MacBook Pro with Snow Leopard after a bit of fiddling around. I installed Snow Leopard before finding out that my UX2 is not officially support yet (doh!), but there are beta drivers. I take this to mean that they haven't ironed all the issues out. I couldn't find anything (easily) on the Line 6 forums to help sorting this out. It seems a lot of people have the same problem.

Writing drivers is complicated, and converting drivers from 32 to 64 bit is non-trivial. If you've tried to run Vista 64 they had all the same issues (i.e. no/buggy 64 driver support for a lot of things for quite a while).

Initially I just installed the latest 4.2.4 drivers, but this created "choppy noise" (cutting out, popping, white noise, etc). I did get the "kext" error whilst installing, so assume something was going wrong (but I didn't spend time finding out what). Snow Leopard is all 64 bit now, so some drivers won't work. If you just install the latest drivers something must get confused.

The trick is to completely remove all Line 6 software and start again. I rebooted several times, cautiously, to allow the OS to remove unwanted files. I used AppCleaner to uninstall applications because otherwise some files get left behind (e.g. config and data files). If you don't use AppCleaner, this won't work.
  • Restart (so we start with clean slate).
  • Run AppCleaner.
  • Uninstall Line 6 Gearbox using AppCleaner.
  • Uninstall Line 6 Monkey using AppCleaner.
  • Restart.
  • Uninstall Line 6 drivers (Use program in Line 6 directory in Applications).
  • Restart (to start again with no Line 6 software).
  • Install latest Gearbox (3.70, contains 3.4 drivers).
  • Install latest (4.2.4) drivers (over Gearbox drivers).
  • Restart.
After you have done this your Toneport should work as normal. The order is important. My Toneport works fine with Garageband and Gearbox now. I'll keep an eye out for new drivers.

Not a bad idea to bung the guy who wrote AppCleaner a couple of bucks, because this won't work otherwise. :)

I'm not a Line 6 support engineer, if this doesn't work for you, sorry!

UPDATE (7-Oct): After disconnecting the UX2 and using my laptop elsewhere, and then plugging the UX2 back in, the crackling came back again. I managed to get rid of this by leaving the UX2 plugged into the USB port and rebooting the Macbook. It seems like disconnecting the UX2 and/or the Macbook going into sleep breaks something in the 4.2.4 drivers so you have to reset the machine.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Snow Leopard

Well, I upgraded to Snow Leopard recently (10.6.1). Normally I wait a while with new operating system versions until they've had a chance to patch them (e.g. version X.Y.3). I waited quite a while before installing Leopard as it was such a big upgrade. Snow Leopard is supposed to be a "tweak", with the biggest changes at low level, where everything has gone 64 bit.

The biggest problems here will be with hardware drivers breaking (as I found out with my Toneport UX2). Still, compared to Vista 64 this doesn't seem to be much of a problem. Microsoft is notorious for releasing beta quality software and then patching it after users have tested it. Apple seem to be a bit better at releasing, but then they control the whole hardware and platform more strictly, so they have less margin for error.

Snow Leopard does seem more responsive, not that Leopard was slow. Apps seem to start faster, and the Finder is instantaneous. This is a breath of fresh air after using Window's sluggish Explorer (on XP). It's pretty poor that it can take a couple of seconds to refresh, even on a high spec machine.

Snow Leopard no longer supports PowerPC so my old G5 will have to stay on Leopard, and will probably be appearing on ebay. I believe applications are also compressed, which allows them to load faster. It's faster to decompress something into memory from disc, as the bottleneck is your slow hard drive (especially on a 5400 RPM laptop drive). My laptop does seem more zippy, and I got a massive chunk of hard drive space back, ~10GBs?!! I have XCode and a load of other stuff that would benefit.

Not really noticed any visual changes, but it does seem strangely more pleasing to the eye. Upgrade cost is relatively cheap and Apple have been smart not to charge a lot for something which doesn't give a lot of end user features, but a lot of work will have gone into all the optimisations it provides. Worth upgrading for the extra responsiveness.