Sunday, June 26, 2016

open source software I use, part 2

[update 26-jun-2016
Thanks to Audrina W., I have now corrected the link to Smarty

Note that a lot of what is shown here was relevant in 2010 or so but is now out of date.]


Continuing on from part 1 of this series, here are some more open-source apps I use:


- jQuery. I have found this javascript library to be indispensable! It is a simple, non-imposing, yet deceptively powerful library. I will not write why or how it is so good here; there are lots and lots of articles on the web doing just that. I'd strongly suggest you have a look at it, if you do any kind of javascript work. It is not the only library out there nor the most all-encompassing but, to me, it is one of the most useful and fun to work with!


Web development:
I will bundle all the tools I use in one and see how it goes! Most of them do not need any explanation (but feel free to tell me otherwise!)


PHP: Server-side scripting language.
Reasonably
popular. I believe there are a couple of apps written in it.
(cough cough! A couple of million apps maybe! I read somewhere that there are approx 50 million web-sites running on PHP!!!)


btw, if you are a strongly-typed language developer (say, C, C++, C#, C+1, D-1 whatever, Pascal etc), do remember that this is a scripting language!
It allows you to write apps, large and small, very quickly, with nothing more needed than a text editor.
However, it also allows you to create apps that suck and are full of bugs.
Since it has no type-checking nor any compile-time smarts, you are always running the risk of bugs in your source.
A small mis-type of a variable name could bring down a large app, long after you've moved onto greener pastures.


That said, see my point above about 50 million web sites. (Not that more is better!)


Smarty: Template engine for PHP. Allows separation of presentation logic from PHP code
(makes using MVC just that much easier)


XDebug: Debugger for PHP. Works well with Eclipse. Must-have


EclipsePDT: The mother of all IDEs. Initially written by IBM, later offer to the OSS community. Thank you Big Blue!
(The PDT version is tailored to PHP development)




SAJAX: This library will help you write ajax-enabled apps; it provides all that is needed to make calls from javascript to PHP and back, passing arguments to and fro.
I have found it very useful, however I am now using the jQuery ajax support for most of this work. It is not the same but achieves the same result.
(NOTE: Jul 2010: jQuery provides all that is needed to do AJAX easily, so there is no need for this)


Mantis: Bug-tracker, written in PHP.


XAMPP: If you need a LAMPP stack (Linux Apache MySQL PHP Perl) or a WAMPP (Windoze....) then your best shot at a simple, no-hassles installation is via the XAMPP installer.
Download and run it and, presto, your machine has all the essentials for web development.


PHPMyAdmin: MySQL database administration tool. Simply extract into a web dir onto your LAMPP server, point your browser at it and there you are! You now have a web-based, browser-driven MySql administrator!


JasperReports: OSS's answer to Crystal Reports.
This is just the reporting engine and runs off XML report-definition files. Do not panic, there is a GUI designer Eclipse plugin for it that makes report design a breeze (screenshot). There is also a stand-alone GUI for it, called iReport.


Note: Eclipse also has a reporting tool, called BIRT. I haven't used it a lot, however you should have a look at it too.




And now, for some non-development-related OSS tools:
- KeePass: Password vault. There is also a PocketPC version of it. It has a smart 'find out what form I am in and paste out the correct credentials' way of doing things.


I use it to store all my passwords. Before I leave work, I export the password to KeePass's native format, upload it to gmail, go home and download from gmail. I then get KeePass to import it and update existing keys and add new ones. I then export the merged results, upload to gmail, go to work, download from gmail and repeat all over again.


Webmin: A web-based, browser-driven Linux management tool. Allows you to manage almost everything on your Linux box from just a browser. You can start/stop jobs, administer users, administer server apps (such as Apache, MySql, ProFTPD, Samba etc etc).
It pretty much does everything. All you need to do is extract the webmin source (PHP) files onto your web server, point your browser to https://myserver:10000 and you are in control!


If you do end up using any of the above, let their authors know; they'd appreciate acknowledgement.
more later...


ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Uninstall remnants of Visual Studio 13 and above

Microsoft has created a utility that is run from the command line (administrator level needed), which cleans up any leftover files or registry keys that may be left over after a failed un-install.

This can come handy when a VS uninstall fails. If you try to install VS again, you may find that it detects the partial, previous installation and misbehaves.
In my case, it kept insisting that the installation dir was on the D: drive and would not let me change it.


You can find it here.


ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I've published my first music album

All work and no play... 

Well, I decided to have a little fun (while still working) and published an album of my music! 
Finally! 

They are all composed and played by me (I play electric guitar; all the rest are via MIDI) 
There are many more tunes in the pipeline; alas, it takes quite a while to finalise a tune. 
Hopefully, more will be out in the next 6 months. 

Check it out on Google Play​, SoundCloud​ ​and BandCamp

Enjoy!


ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Make Logitech keyboard media keys work with AIMP


Logitech's Setpoint software does not seem to support the AIMP media player.

I have an MK300 keyboard and when I press the volume up/down, mute and pause keys, all is well.

However, when I press the prev/next keys, nothing happens.

Here is a solution that works with my keyboard and Setpoint v6.52

- Find the file players.ini 
(in my case, it is in:  C:\Program Files\Logitech\SetPointP)

- Open it with an editor and add the 2 lines I've highlighted
(please note that due to line-wrap, things look a little messy.
I have used <CRLF> in places where the line needs to break.
Any line breaks anywhere else are actually just word-wraps)


#List of supported players<CRLF>
#{btn|key|msg|emg|cmd|wac},exeName, wndClass,wndCaption,xxx,play_delayplay,pause,stop,prev,next,remove_flags,ShowOSD,menu_item<CRLF>
#special char --> ^ ctrl;+ shift+ctrl; $ ctrl (no translation); * alt (no translation); @ ctrl+alt (no tanslation); & (no translation) <CRLF>
<CRLF>
[Players]<CRLF>
AIMP3=cmd,AIMP3.exe,Winamp v1.x,xxx,xxx,40045,40046,40047,40044,40048,0,1,WinAmp 5<CRLF>
AIMP2=cmd,AIMP2.exe,Winamp v1.x,xxx,xxx,40045,40046,40047,40044,40048,0,1,WinAmp 5<CRLF>
MusicMatch7=wac,MMJB.EXE,MMJB:MAINWND,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,0,1,MusicMatch<CRLF>


[EDIT 21 jun 2014]
 Remember to restart Setpoint after you made your changes to the INI file.


[EDIT 17 dec 2015]

 Modified to suit AIMP4
[Players]
;AIMP3lib=cmd,AIMP3lib.exe,Winamp v1.x,xxx,xxx,40045,40046,40047,40044,40048,0,1,WinAmp 5
AIMP3=cmd,AIMP3.exe,Winamp v1.x,xxx,xxx,40045,40046,40047,40044,40048,0,1,WinAmp 5
AIMP2=cmd,AIMP2.exe,Winamp v1.x,xxx,xxx,40045,40046,40047,40044,40048,0,1,WinAmp 5
AIMP4=cmd,AIMP.exe,Winamp v1.x,xxx,xxx,40045,40046,40047,40044,40048,0,1,WinAmp 5


Please check out my band's album on Google Play​, SoundCloud​ ​and BandCamp




ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Playing my music from my NAS to a Raspberry Pi player ... and beyond

[work in progress]

Due to audio issues with Win7 and 8, I had to move my music playback off the PC and onto a Raspberry Pi.

Here is a brief description of what I have:
Raspberry Pi 
I use a Model B+ (Model B also works perfectly) with MPD.
MPD is configured to output sound to the HDMI output, as well as stream it over HTTP. That way, I can also listen to my music from any of the connected devices (such as tablets, phones etc)


USB sound card
The Pi has 2 music outputs:
a) 3.5mm analog audio jack. This works ok but the sound is not of high quality.

b) HDMI. Digital output. This is a much better option

c) USB. Digital output. This requires an additional USB sound card that plugs into one of the Pi's USB ports. The quality is very good. (Audiophiles with a golden ear will probably disagree.)

I use option C, with one of these USB 2.0 Virtual 7.1 Channel Audio Sound Card Adapters.


NAS 
All my music is stored on a NAS, so it can be accessed from anywhere by anyone of my players (currently, just the one)

Cantana
This is the software that I use on the PC to play music. The software runs on the PC; the sound comes out of the USB sound card (connected to the Pi) and is fed to my amplifier/speakers.


MPDroid
I use this MPD client on my phone, so I can also choose what to hear, without needing to fire up the PC.
Additionally, if MPDroid detects an incoming or outgoing phone call, it pauses the music and resumes it once the call is finished. Very nice!

If you need more info on how this is all set up, leave me a comment.


ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!

I can't update Android apps installed on the sd card anymore

Connect your device to your PC (you may need to have the USB drivers that came with your phone installed)I've recently started having a problem with updating my Android apps.

If they were located on the SD card then the update would fail after it was downloaded.

After searching around for quite a bit, the following did the trick:

  • Connect your phone to your PC
  • When the connection is detected by the phone, it may ask you if you wish to switch to USB storage. Say yes.
  • From your PC, go to the phone's drive (that should have just appeared in Explorer) and navigate to /sdcard/.android_secure/
  • Find the file called smdl2tmp1.asec and delete it
  • Disconnect the phone
  • Done!!

[UPDATE 1dec2014]
A number of people have commented that they can no longer find the file smdl2tmp1.asec.
I have been told by others (but have not tested myself, as I don't have the problem) that another option is to connect the phone to a PC and use Windows Explorer to look at the SD card and try to find that file.

I am afraid I don't have any other suggestions :-(




[Blatant plug! See my article about my album on Google Play.]


 ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saffire Pro 26, Firewire, Windows DPC latency

For the last 6 or so months, I've had a big problem with crackles and pops when playing or recording music, due to DPC latency issues.

When I ran DPC Latency checker v1.3, it would show sudden red spikes every time there was heavy network traffic. Sometimes, just refreshing Chrome would do it.

This was not only happening within Reaper, while recording but also when playing back MP3 files via AIMP.

Extensive searches through the web failed to find anything that would work for me. The best I could do, was reboot the PC and the start recording.
Once the PC had been up for a while (especially if it had been put in 'Sleep' mode and then woken up), the crackles would come back.



At the time, I was running Win7-64 and used USB3 for all external devices.

So, in order to overcome this I decided to move the sound generation to external hardware and I bought a Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 for recording my music.

This provides me with A/D conversion from my guitar --> PC, as well as D/A when playing back music from the PC.

In addition to that, I get to use some of the best pre-amps around.

Alas, it would seem that USB3 does not provide sustained  high throughput, so most audio equipment manufacturers (including Focusrite) use Firewire.

Given that I was going to move to Win8 at some point, I wanted to make sure the card I bought worked well with Win8.
(It appears that MicroSchmuck saw it fit to stop supporting Firewire in Win8 and only a few chipsets actually work with it).

I ended up taking a chance and buying a generic Firewire card from CPL in Notting Hill, Victoria.




Against all odds, it worked perfectly well in Win7-64.
A few days later, I moved to Win8.1 and that card still works fine!

Additionally, the DPC latency seems to now hover around 1-3 ms, no matter what I do with the network!
I was copying 220GB over the network without any problem.

I hope this helps others struggling with DPC issues while recording/playing back music.

[UPDATE 16aug2014]
Hmmm, it would seem that VirtualBox can sometimes mess with DPC latency...
It is quite amazing running an i7 CPU and yet still struggle with performance at this level.
Something tells me Billy-Boy's creation is at fault.
If only Reaper and the VSTs I use were available under Linux!

[UPDATE 13oct2014]
So, even though I now run an i7-4790 CPU @3.6GHz, I still (sometimes) get atrocious clicks and buzzes when generating music from the PC itself.


See my article on how I moved my music playing off the PC and onto a Raspberry Pi.




ps: Comments and/or links to this article are most welcome!