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USB MIDI for RISC OS

Well... This is a little mind blowing for me. You see, I started writing a USB MIDI module in July 2013 (yes, ten years ago). Along the way I added features and did stuff to make it work more and more like the Acorn MIDI module. Over the years, I added more bits and pieces. Eventually I gave it the licence EUPL (open source) and released it for others to play with.

In February 2019, Dave Higton converted it to use the DDE's shared makefiles (eww!) and fixed loads of bits of the USB stuff and a proper high resolution timer, plus scheduled transmissions. In essence, he took the basics that I had created and made it all work. I got around to making a version bump and doing something with his sources in August 2022 (last year), spurred on by Jean-Michel Bruck making Rhapsody 4 available, so RISC OS finally has a proper notation program available. No, Maestro is _not_ good enough. ;)

In May, Ian Stanley sent me a lot of updates - basically redoing the connection method to work with more devices, splitting apart the concept of devices and ports to allow for on-the-fly remapping, fixing ActiveSense, and getting SysEx working correctly.

And then this weekend, with help from Colin Granville, buffering and reception problems have been looked at. It's been a bit of a four (five?) way conversation on the ROOL forum this weekend.

It's mind blowing to me as for years nothing happened, and now all the sudden stuff is moving. Oh, I'm not complaining. Just funny how these things happen, isn't it?

Well, here's the result of all of that work. The main thing is that the module now defaults to using the fast clock (millisecond timestamp), and the data extractor has been changed in order that it can cope with a buffer full of data without missing anything.

midi_011.zip (182K)
(licenced under the EUPL, comes with full source)

 

SimpleSeq v0.04

Alongside that, I've been working on my simple sequencer. So I present you the current work in progress version, v0.04.

Previous versions:

This new version offers the following new stuff:

  • Whereas Numpad-8 and Numpad-2 could set the note velocity higher or lower, Numpad-5 will set the note to the default (which is usually 80 unless configured otherwise).
  • Hardened the file loader. Now doesn't get upset at little things (like the SysVar not being defined). Sure, that means loading can't continue, but it shouldn't crash the program. ;)
  • Added smart Pitch Bend. This will allow you to bend from a base note to another whole note an octave either side of the base.
    Pitch Bend dialogue
    Note that this requires a synthesiser capable of adjusting the pitch bend range from two semitones to two octaves and applying that to a note in progress. Hardware synths/keyboards generally can, while software synth support varies greatly. You'll need to test this on your hardware.
  • Fixed Overview mode to, well, work.
  • Play now switches to Overview for the duration of playback so everything that's being played is now visible on-screen at once.
  • Numerous draw corrections to look better.
  • Pressing a number from 1 to 0 (that's 1 through 9 then 0) will switch directly to channel 1 to 10, to make it easier to jump around in the music.
  • Pressing Enter will automatically go to the next column. But... there's a little trick here. If you do this whilst holding down notes on the keyboard it will extend those notes into the new column.
    So if, for example, you play a C major chord and press Enter three times, then let go of the chord keys and press Enter once more, you've just created a chord lasting for a crotchet.
    You might need to play around to get the hang of it, but once you get it, you'll see it can be used to allow for faster input of music.
    It only touches those notes held down at the moment you press Enter, so you can lay out a set of chords, then go back to add in the melody using the same method.

I think I'll need to try to write a user guide soon. Oh, and "SimpleSeq" is now an officially reserved application name.

Download simpleseq_004.zip (80.72K)
For RISC OS 5 machines with MIDI

 

Car repair

Well, the bad news is that the ABS unit itself is failing. They aren't cheap.
But, then, for a car that does 29mph (45kph) flat out, I've had two people now tell me that it doesn't really make that much of a difference, only this time the guy said given the cost of the unit it's not worth replacing in on a ten year old 60K-km car.
Fair enough.

Oil and filters change - €149,30 including tax.
Gearbox oil change - €39,60 including tax.
Four sets of bearings for the axles (€51,44), plus two rear brake cylinders (€30,96), a set of brake pads for the back (€63.95), plus €85,50 for "T1" grade mechanic's time. Plus some other small things I can't be arsed to type out.

Came to €418,93. Then the government wanted their pound of flesh and added €83,77 in tax (charged at 20%!), bringing the total to €502,70.

And that was without having the ABS sensors replaced (because, well, he tried and the controller still threw loads of errors so it wasn't those, so he refitted the existing sensors).

I was expecting €400, but had budgeted €600. So I guess I called it about right. But, holy crap, that's a third of a month's pay. I should have become a mechanic...

Speaking of which, one of the seats in the waiting room was made of an old oil drum, using old pistons for feet.

This is so cool
<nerdgasm> This is so cool. </nerdgasm>

 

Electric car?

I was pleasantly surprised to see that an electric Aixam claims to do 137km between charges. That's more than twice the range offered by the Citroën Ami. The mechanic said that with a new car I should expect to get around 120km in real driving. Which makes sense, the 137km is probably going to be measured going around a test track (jeez, can you imagine being the poor sod that had to drive a car at 45kph until the battery conked it?) rather than town traffic, 30kph zones, hills, etc.
Anyway, the big turn-off of the Ami was that, with a new car and new battery, I'd just about be able to do a round-trip to Big Town. But I'd have to think about maybe finding a charging point in town to top it up, like while I'm shopping. But the Aixam? I could do it twice and have a little to spare for driving between the shops.
Today's journey was, what, 45-50km? Something like that. Well within the possibilities, and probably about my limit for the time being.

I'm not that interested, as they're hideously expensive. It's like an "if I win the lottery I'll get one tomorrow" but otherwise my next car will probably be a second hand diesel clanker.
But since he had one in his showroom, seemed only right to ask some questions.

The first thing - what's under the bonnet? Well... I don't know what I was expecting. It wasn't this amount of empty space.

Under the bonnet of an electric Aixam
Under the bonnet of an electric Aixam.

Here's a little bit closer.

Electric Aixam drive system
Electric Aixam drive system.

It's not only super tiny, but the motor is connected directly to the gearbox. No drive belt or pulleys. It still needs regular (5,000km) checkups and gearbox oil changes every 10,000km, but there's no more hassles with the vagarities of the mechanical parts of the drive chain as in the diesel motor versions.

And, if there isn't some sort of slip clutch hiding in there, that motor must have a massive amount of torque.
For what it's worth, the Ami has the motor connected to the gearbox by a wide, flat, grooved drive belt.

Around back, depressingly no spare tyre any more. But something lurking where the fuel tank used to be.

Electric Aixam battery
Electric Aixam battery.

I didn't see any separate 12V battery, so I don't know if I missed it or if the equipment power is tapped off of the main battery. It's quite common to have a small 12V lead-acid for the lights and compartment electrics, and a drive battery that's around 48V or so.

 

LED light bulbs are terrible

After, I went shopping. Spent too much in a big supermarket that I rarely visit. Got all sorts of goodies. Like a big jar (with hermetic screw-on lid) for my porridge oats. And this...

Stuff from the shop
Stuff from the shop.

On the left, finally, a pair of proper wire strippers. I've not felt my teeth have been up to it for many a year, leaving me to use scissors. Which is a bit of an art. And very prone to failure. So now? An actual tool to actually do it correctly.

On the right? Well, I'm finding that LED lights are, for want of a better phrase, utter shit of the most dismal bug-ridden diarrhoea kind. Graphic, sure. But as much as I want to like LED lights for their instant lighting and very low energy consumption, I'm finding that their claims of "fifty thousand on/off cycles" and "fifteen years (at 2h45ish per day)" is unmitigated bullshit of the first order.
The light in the bathroom failed, maybe about a hundred switch cycles and maybe a hundred hours of use? Just replaced the one in the lamp in the living room. And today? I have all the lights on in here. I don't need it, but some little bug did quite a number on me (leading to short lived but very itchy raised white splotches from where it sunk its fangs into me) so I'm here with the lights on, hoping it'll be like "oh, shiny!" and go bother the bulb instead of me.
And... the LED bulb in the light fitting is flickering like it's trying to give me a fit.

Here it is. I've swapped it out for one of the ones in the three-pack above.

Crappy OSRAM light bulb
Crappy OSRAM light bulb.

It's an OSRAM, it's a proper brand. So it should have lasted much longer. Especially given how much these things cost.
I briefly considered keeping receipts to take back failed bulbs, but would the supermarkets honour it? I could have easily swapped in a different bulb. And it's a lot of hassle to keep track of what bulb and what receipt goes where.

So I've taken an alternative approach. If these things are cheap crap that fail way before their rated lifespan, then I'll just try cheap crap bulbs. I think the Foxter ones were like €2,50 each and the Eco+ were like €4 for three. I don't expect much, but then, given how poor the other ones are (a mixture of OSRAM and Super U's own that look near identical; each costing €7-10), the cheap bulbs don't exactly have a high bar to reach.

 

I also got myself a cake (from Picard) that's an obscene amount of cream. Because... comfort food. So I'm going to up this and then go get myself more cake while... I dunno... something on Netflix? <shrug>

 

 

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John, 11th September 2023, 21:53
I used to keep the receipts and write the date of purchase on the white collar in pencil when we first had the "folded tube" low energy bulbs. 
 
I only won once or twice at the most. I can remember writing a little app - I expect it was a primitive spreadsheet - to demonstrate the potential savings over the lifetime of the "bulb". 
 
Savings were significant! 
 
I just can't see why, now all bulbs are LED, the electricity bills are still so outrageously high! 
 
I expect it's the same principle governing space available and levels of incompetence, closely related to attitudes of landing of jam-coated toast!
Rick, 11th September 2023, 22:12
Does your supplier give you a bill (or app?) with historical comparisons? 
 
I'm using less electricity, and it's costing more. That's it in a nutshell. 
 
They reckon prices over here will go up 10%. Why? It's like 85% or so nuclear, with ever more of the stations coming online, and there are éoliens all over the place. So the price rise is because....? 
 
Because they can, I'd imagine. 
After all, it works for Big Oil, why not Big Bulb getting in on some of that tasty profit...
Anon, 11th September 2023, 22:55
I have LED bulbs throughout here, apart from in the attic (fluorescent striplight that gets used once in a blue baboon [1]). 
 
Living room (main light), dining room, bedrooms all have a B&Q own-brand B22 LED bulb kicking out just over 1,500 lumens at 2700K. 
 
The wall lights in the living room have some Homebase dimmable SES globes, something like 5W a piece, equivalent to a 40W bulb, also 2700K. Fitted those back in 2013 as they were the only dimmable ones I could find at the time, and the wall lights are on a "soft switch" that fades up to full brightness and down to off as the switch is turned on or off. Halogens were failing after about 3-4 months in there. 
 
The downstairs toilet has a pair of B&Q sealed 3000K 600 lumen LED downlighters (similar to GU10s but sealed in the fitting), running from a PIR switch. 
 
The bathroom has three GU10 downlighters, Integral branded bulbs, around 500 lumen each at 3000K. Also on a PIR switch. And yes, the one above the bath is IP-rated. 
 
The kitchen has five GU10 downlights, 4000K (so natural white), around 500 lumens each. Again, B&Q own brand, seem to work as well as anything. 
 
I also have LED under-counter striplighting in the kitchen, linked to the light switch on the cooker hood. Flick that on and about 3000 lumens (at 4000K) lights up the hob and worktops, so I can see what I'm cooking. 
 
Finally outside, I have a pair of coach-style lamps bulbs out the front, a bulkhead lamp by the back door and a pair of outdoor globe lights by the patio doors, all fitted with a 1500 lumen 2700K bulb (B22 at the front, E27 at the rear). All apart from the patio lights are left on dusk-til-dawn, with the patio lights being separately controllable. 
 
Having had LED bulbs since 2015 (apart from the wall lights which were swapped from halogen to LED in 2013) I can confirm that LED bulbs do last much longer than incandescent and give a much better quality of light than CFLs. However you do need to make sure you get decent ones as there seems to be a lot of Chinese crap around that behaves in the way Rick describes, flickering like mad and giving a poor quality of light. 
 
I also have solar panels. The rebate I get by selling surplus electricity back to the Grid more than covers the cost of running a few LED bulbs at night.
David Pilling, 12th September 2023, 02:03
With old filament light bulbs the efficiency comparison should be with your source of heating. 
 
I feel that in the UK if the car has ABS and it does not work it is an MOT fail. 
 
Already you have range anxiety, before buying the car. Interesting to see the motor, I'd assumed they had a flat motor on each wheel, more basic. Until I spotted a Tesla with "dual motor" written on the back. 
 
As to buying an old diesel - is "ulez" not French for something. 
 
I was looking forward to using the 2030 deadline as an excuse to buy an electric car. I don't think it will happen. They can scrap it and blame Boris Johnson "lack of preparation", "unrealistic". 
 
I do see a lot of electric cars, they could come to pass, cheaper batteries etc etc Or it may be they get postponed and something else comes along. 
 
This week there was a lot of criticism of wind turbines...
C Ferris, 12th September 2023, 11:12
In the USA they are producing a mix of CO2 and hydrogen to make a liquid 
replacement for internal combustion engines. Also there work on Salt based batteries - slightly lower capacity but the price of Lead.
C Ferris, 12th September 2023, 11:57
Surprised Rick with the nice Wx - doesn't get a electric bicycle or tricycle.
Rick, 12th September 2023, 12:18
It's a ~12km commute through country roads where speed limits are "mere suggestions". 
 
I'm crazy, not suicidal. ;)
C Ferris, 12th September 2023, 12:47
Interesting - years ago in France other road users gave bicycles a wide berth. 
 
More room than here in Britain:-(
Rick, 12th September 2023, 12:48
I've noticed the LED bulbs have an efficiency rating of F or G. 
WTF? 
It makes light and takes barely any power to do so, what the hell else do they want? (by comparison a tungsten bulb would rate at least ZZZ, surely?) 
 
Yes, a non functional ABS is an MOT fail. These toy cars don't have to pass an MOT. Given some I see around that are held together with duct tape, I can't help but feel that most would fail. Hell, Felicity's brakes would have been failed before making it to the test platform. 
 
I think the French just say ULEZ and sometimes give a translation, but London's ULEZ is quite well known. 
The equivalent here is "Crit'Air", and I have my little sticker (only cost a few euros online). 
 
I think right now electric cars are mostly middle class people virtue signalling. 
 
Yes, I have range anxiety. 
I'm also "anxious" (in as much as a non emotional person can be) about built in obsolescence due to the non-availability of motors and/or battery packs a decade down the line, never mind longer. Not to mention the massive amounts of dangerous waste these batteries will generate. 
 
I think people are currently thinking that they're doing good by ditching Big Oil, without considering what's creating the electricity used to recharge those batteries nor the ecological damage of making and disposing of them. 
 
Plus we're going to have to completely rethink how and where cars are parked. Battery fires are quite severe. Would one really want to live or work in a tower sat atop a garage full of battery vehicles? 
 
That recent ship fire? Currently believed to be from one or more electric vehicles (that weren't even being driven). It might even put the kibosh on built in garages in homes. Especially the older designs that tended to do awful things like put the smaller (often children's) bedroom over top. 
 
I would like to like the idea of electric cars, but I'm afraid at the moment it only seems like swapping one sort of bad pollution for a different equally bad sort of pollution. 
 
I don't see the EU or the UK doing away with combustion engines, not least until battery packs are not only standardised, but able to be automatically switched out for a replacement, like at a petrol station, where you pay a reasonable fee for renting a charged battery. 
Such vehicles might make sense in cities (which tend to already have a public transport infrastructure), but out in the country it's damn near unworkable. France let's me drive my toy car with no licence because there's practically no infrastructure (even school buses are being cut back) so it's pretty much the only choice. 
Plus taxis, ambulances, deliveries, farmers... electric is a solution, but it's not a solution to everything. Simply stating that fuel cars will be banned is the sort of knee jerk nonsense you'd get from somebody that never set foot outside of the metropolitan area they grew up in. 
 
I can understand America using hybrids. Europe is closer to Boston (Reykjavik) than San Fransisco. It's only a couple of hundred kilometres further to be the west coast of Ireland. Entire states are larger than European countries, and some cowboy ranches are the size of English counties. So, yeah, whatever the range of an electric car, it won't get you far in America. People with Teslas (etc) invariably live in or near urban areas... 
J.G.Harston, 12th September 2023, 18:08
I've just converted ZIP for CP/M from my old BBC BASIC source to "standard" source so it will build on ZMAC and very likely other "native" tools. This is code I wrote in 2000! With a comment: to do, add CPM3 date functionality. 
:D
J.G.Harston, 12th September 2023, 18:39
Also, electric cars won't be viable mass transport vehicles until I can buy one 15 years old for £800, like wot I paid for my little petrol car. 
 
Ah, but that's the plan innit, kill off mass personal transport... (fits foil hat)
Anon, 12th September 2023, 22:50
£800 for a 15-year-old used EV... plus another 10 grand for a replacement battery. 
 
In an episode of Top Gear from a decade and half ago, Clarkson was testing one of the first Teslas (before Elon Musk-Ox bought out the company). Aside from running the battery flat in 75 miles (albeit on a track), this episode was memorable for having none other than Boris Johnson (then Mayor of London) as the guest doing a power lap. 
 
Whilst Boris was extolling the virtues of electric cars, Clarkson asked him "so where does the electricity come from Boris?" BoJo's reply? "From the plug." 
 
Just about sums up that incompetent oaf (BoJo I mean, not Clarkson!)
David Pilling, 13th September 2023, 01:14
Early adopters are good, help bring down prices, but yes good point about spare batteries. There are TV shows where they take a classic IC engine car and convert it to electric - so some mix and match of parts can go on. These days you're owned by the car manufacturer anyway - often no one else can supply or fit parts. 
 
There was a fire in a multistory carpark in Liverpool a few years back - no evs - just the old fashioned type and around 500 cars were destroyed. 
 
Rob, 14th September 2023, 01:20
The problem with a lot of led lighting is the bulb is part of the fitting.. I replaced our 500W halogen security light last year with an LED version, to save on leccy. Damn thing died a couple of weeks ago, but I can't just buy a new bulb, gotta buy a whole new lamp. Well I might pull it apart, see if I can find the module on Ali, but I'll be looking up Big Clyde and swap out the relevant bits to run it at a lower power, give the thing a chance of surviving. That's the main problem with cheap led lights, they run the LEDs way too hard and they burn out quickly..

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