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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mugician 1.7.5 is out

All of the videos that I have been posting since 1.7 and calling "1.8" are fixes leading up to 1.7.5. I have had testers doing extensive testing since 1.7, but of course any changes whatsoever could totally invalidate that testing. The testers help me to make progress to a perfect sound, and I try no to mess up that course.

The last change to code was done on September 18. Most of these changes were related to getting latency down, so did not change the sound as seen in the videos, perhaps with the exception of the time it takes for the sound to ramp up (not the sustain phase).

One of the guys doing testing had a vaguely described problem that sounded like it might be the all purples up and red all the way down setting, at full volume on a half-stack. Then one of the comments states that 1.7 was better at this setting. I am *really* puzzled by these comments, because I think the harmonic mix is completely unchanged for 1.7.5. One of the fixes that I had to do to 1.7 was that at this setting which supposedly sounded so "amazing" was, when you played a note down an "impulse" (audible clicking noise) happened... In fact, this setting was the one particular setting that I hated in 1.7! So the only thing I know of that is different at that setting was a bug. Is anybody seriously saying that they loved that? That makes no sense at all.
I thought that exactly this setting was completely useless in 1.7.

If you feel that I broke 1.7's organ sound, I would be curious to get a concrete explanation. I suppose that it's possible that I could have goofed and changed the harmonic mix, especially when I was reducing latency. Latency reduction changed a little bit of the code everywhere. One thing about Mugician that makes it interesting is that absolutely everything is inter-related. I can't fix the clean sound without changing the distorted sound. Visual doodads can create audible latency. There is next to nothing that doesn't affect the sound in some way. So I can't fix a particular sound in isolation. Even the stupidest little change invalidates a lot of testing, even though it takes testers days to a week to get back to me with feedback since the last line of code has changed.

As you can imagine, that's maddening from the perspective of trying to fix sound bugs without changing the sound. :-)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dream Theater, Rudess, Portnoy and Your iPad

If you own an iPad, and use it for music, then you are indebted to Jordan Rudess even if you don't know who he is. You are indebted to the band Dream Theater, who provides the day job that makes his attention possible. If you love your iPad, you should go to iTunes and go buy some Dream Theater and Jordan Rudess music for your collection. You should go buy his program Morphwiz, which is his own entry into the fray.

Like a Santa Clause with a different beard, he seems to be in so many places at once. He is the keyboardist for Dream Theater; composing, and on tour. He does work for social causes and benefits. He is a gauntlet through which all new instruments seem to require passage to succeed. He is a family guy with kids. He is the personal friend of many an iPad/iPhone programmer that works on an instrument, and has the pulse of everything that is happening in this area. He provides us with feedback from the real-world and motivation to do what we do, especially when it dawns upon us that the quest for a professionally useful instrument doesn't necessarily have anything to do with making an app with mass appeal that will bring in money for our efforts. When you spend forever getting that last 10% of the code right, you think to yourself that if you perfect the sound, then you can rely on Jordan to get it the publicity it needs to succeed - so you press on.

If you have ever come in to work one day to find that the best people - the people that you love most - have decided to leave, then you have some idea what comes next. Mourning is inevitable, but it is also destructive. Don't yearn for the past. Support the new brother that they bring in to fill the shoes of the one that they have lost. In some ways they might be a new band as they have to re-learn things with the changed formula; so be extra-supportive of these guys as they go through this. I don't know what this means for his current level of involvement with us - whether he starts picking the fruits of the research that has been going on with this platform, or he gets back to basics and re-focusing on piano and composing. If you have never heard of Dream Theater, then go check them out and know that they have contributed a lot to the iPhone and iPad platforms.