MultiControl v.0.6.2

MultiControl_062 MultiControl is by far the most popular software application I have created, as can be seen in the web traffic here on my site, and also on the download site at the University of Oslo where the app resides. This is a tiny application that passes on data from a human interface device (mouse, game controller) through either OSC or MIDI. When I first created it back in 2004, there were not so many other options. Today, however, users would typically find more features in an application like Osculator or Steim’s Junxion. Still, MultiControl is downloaded hundreds of times per month, which should indicate that some people think it is interesting and useful.

Unfortunately, I do not have much time for development these days, so I will probably never get around to implement all the cool and exciting features I once wished for in MultiControl. But since it is my most popular application, I feel bad about also abandoning the whole thing. So I will try to keep it updated for the latest operating systems.

I just made a fresh build of the application using the latest version of Max. It works fine here on my Mountain Lion system, and I would imagine that it should also work on Lion (but perhaps not previous versions). Since I have received some feedback about problems with opening zip-files, I have now created a dmg-file instead. To avoid problems with broken links in the future, I will just point to the folder in which the latest version can be found.

Have fun, and let me know if you experience any problems.

Free software for music students

My department, as most music departments, have been teaching software in a computer lab with a bunch of commercial (expensive) software:

  • Notation: Finale, Sibelius
  • Sound editing, mixing: Logic, Digital Performer, Pro Tools
  • Sound programming: Max
  • Writing: MS Word
  • Spreadsheet: MS Excel
  • Analysis: Matlab, SPSS

The free software community has developed rapidly in the last years, and I now see that there are good, free and cross-platform software covering a lot of the functionality of the above-mentioned programs:

On top of that comes some great free analysis software that don’t have commercial competition:

For advanced courses, I still think it makes sense to use some of the industry standards. Many of them are more advanced than their free software counterparts, and they are often better documented. But for introduction courses I think it would make sense to use free software. This would have many benefits:

  • Students can install on their own computers, and will not be locked to working only in the computer lab.
  • Students will not be locked to a specific operating system, since the above mentioned programs run on all platforms (OSX, Windows, Linux, and some even iPhone!).
  • The computer lab will not be overcrowded around assignments and exams.
  • We can focus on content, method and theory rather than on corporate peculiarities and the latest new features. This will hopefully also show students that the basics of sound theory, recording, editing, mixing, programming, composing, etc. are actually quite generic (and technology-independent).
  • The department saves money on licenses and computer maintenance.
  • The money can instead be used for running higher quality labs with more advanced (expensive) hardware and software.
  • Statistically, most of our students end up as teachers at various levels. Most schools can’t afford the commercial software packages, so the teachers will end up using free software at some point anyway.

More general arguments for the use of free software in education can be found in this article by Stallman.

AudioAnalysis v0.5

I am teaching a course in sound theory this semester, and therefore thought it was time to update a little program I developed several years ago, called SoundAnalysis. While there are many excellent sound analysis programs out there (SonicVisualiserPraat, etc.), they all work on pre-recorded sound material. That is certainly the best approach to sound analysis, but it is not ideal in a pedagogical setting where you want to explain things in realtime.

There are not so many realtime audio analysis programs around, at least not anyone that looks and behaves similar on both OSX and Windows. One exception that is worth mentioning is the excellent sound tools from Princeton, but they lack some of the analysis features I am interested in showing to the students.

So my update of the SoundAnalysis program, should hopefully cover a blank spot in the area of realtime sound visualisation and analysis. The new version provides a larger spectrogram view, and the option to change various spectrogram features on the fly. The quantitative features have been moved to a separate window, and now also includes simple beat tracking.

Below is a screenshot giving an overview of the new version:

Overview of AudioAnalysis

Other new selling points include a brand new name… I have also decided to rename it to AudioAnalysis, so that it harmonizes with my AudioVideoAnalysis and VideoAnalysis programs.

The program can be found over on the fourMs software page, and here is a short tutorial video:

Please let me know if you find bugs or other strange things in the program, and I will try to fix them as soon as possible (I expect there to be some Win 64-bit issues…).

Opened for comments (again)

I have opened for comments on the blog again! The comment option was closed a year ago after having received a couple of hundred thousand comments in a couple of days. Now I have updated to the latest version of WordPress, and have activated new spam filters. Hopefully, this can keep the spam out this time. At least it is worth a try.

Happy commenting!

PDF merge in preview

After I began using PDFCompress for minimizing PDF files, the only reason I have had for using the full Adobe Acrobat has been to combine PDFs. Now I realize that since OS 10.5 this functionality has been built into Preview. I guess I should really start reading the release notes of OSes and applications a bit more carefully, since I managed to get to 10.6 before I found out about this feature.

Anyways, it is super easy to combine files: Just open in Preview and drag the icon(s) from one file on top of the icon in another (see demonstration).

Looking around for this solution I also discovered the free iCombiner application, which may be even easier to work with, and especially when having many PDF files that I want to combine (e.g. lots of chapters in a book).

So now I don’t really see any good reasons for upgrading my old Acrobat to a newer version any longer.