As mentioned last week, my next project revolves around audio analysis. The first step is acquiring data and for that, I had already found the perfect Java solution. JLayer makes it easy to obtain data, but a sound file contains very large amounts of it. This post goes into a basic architecture to tame that data and get it into a form that can be processed.
JLayer can stream data to its own AudioDevice class. This is a callback class that has hooks for opening and closing a device, which we don’t need. The important hook is the one that sends the bytes to the device. This is where you can capture the raw stream. Most audio analysis, however, doesn’t use the raw stream, but averages the data to reduce the amount of data to process.
Now that my previous project is finished, it’s time to start the next. In an entirely different direction, I will now tackle the field of audio analysis. My first step was to take a look at what’s already out there and I must admit, it was overwhelming. There are a lot of very specialized tools for just one task and there are extremely general tools that throw in everything and the kitchen sink.
Here’s a summary of the most interesting program I found and which I will focus on a little more in the future. You’ll notice that most of the audio tools you can find for free are toolkits with only basic GUI frontends. I didn’t really find anything particularly user friendly.
Vamp seems to be the audio analysis plugin framework that has the most traction within the open source community. It is fairly complicated to get everything configured the way you want, but there are many existing plugins available, so it’s probably worth your time.
Just as Vamp above, Marsyas is a research driven framework for audio analysis and more. It seems to have more industry support, but I guess most of that is closed source. The list of links on their project page is long and intruiging, and definitely worth a little more research.
SoundRuler is one of many tools that offers a view on the waveform, fast Fourier transform (FFT) and some more. What makes this noteworthy is that it is geared at beginners (me) and has a bunch of manuals. However, upon installing I didn’t really find it very userfriendly, but that might be only a first wrong impression. I will go through some of the documentation in the next week.
WaveSurfer is a similar program, but it seems to be more humble in goals and therefor a little easier to interpret and work with.
I’m not sure if the CLAM project will suite my needs, but my interest was tickled by their graphical way of configuring the tools. Certainly something I’ll be writing a little more about later on.
So far I haven’t really found anything that I’m really happy with. I have tried all of the above, except CLAM and then another 5 to 10 that didn’t make the list. The only result is, that I can’t help but feel lost. Those tools dump boatloads of information to my screen with very little context or explanation.
I can understand the raw waveform plot, I can even interpret the FFT plots, but all the other stuff is just voodoo. I have the feeling all those tools were programmed by true audio geeks, with an extremely deep knowledge of waveforms. So if you are one of them, you’ll love them all. But what I need is a tutorial or course in sound analysis and sound properties. How to interpret all the little lines and numbers.
Since I have completed the storyline, this might be my final entry on GTA Chinatown Wars. The game only shows me a 48% completion, so I still got a lot of stuff to do. I don’t think I’ll be going for 100, but I might take on a few additional missions. According to the in-game counter, I’ve put over 10 hours in the game, so I got my money’s worth. However, there are still things I’d like to discuss.
I haven’t talked about the story yet, because I didn’t think it was worth mentioning. It starts of pretty so-so, but in the end things come together nicely and I guess it’s an acceptable excuse to have a big blowout fight. For a game it’s pretty ok story. It might even make a movie worth watching, but it wouldn’t work as a book. As far as storytelling is concerned, game makers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side, you don’t want to spend too much time in cutscenes to show off your story, on the other hand, it’s difficult to tell a story if you only have action sequences. Ever since adventure games and full motion video games went out of style, we only have games like Half-life left who walk this fine line pretty nicely
If you complete the story missions, you will undoubtely for ever remember the last three missions. The game ends in some seriously intensive gunfights. If you don’t like the gunplay in Chinatown Wars at all, I’m affraid you will be a bit bummed by the end. But by the time you make it this far into the game, you’ll probably have a pretty good grip of how to handle the situation. I thoroughly enjoyed the final missions. Althouh I had to replay them quite a few times. The key to victory: take it slow, don’t rush.
After you complete the story, the “Guardian Lions” mission is unlocked. Once completed, you can upload the mission data to the Rockstar Social Club for a bonus. Although it’s a small thing, I really love this online integration (and it cuts back on piracy, so it’s a win-win)
Anyway, if you still haven’t got the game, and aren’t convinced by now, I don’t think I will ever do so, but still: go buy and play the game!
This beautifully illustrated and completely free e-book will give you insight into the materials you need, the circuits to build and the software that will perform the tricks. Thanks to Make: for the pointer.
There’s a reason this post is titled “experiments”. It is actually an unfinished work, but I wanted to give you a look at what I’ve already been able to create. This is how far I got for now:
First, I got an A-Wing from the blendermodels archive. Before I got the first render result shown in the picture above, I had to fix the normals of most of the meshes in there (in Blender: go into edit mode, select vertices and ctrl-n)
Next, get the export script from Dennis’s page and install it. Take care to get the correct directory, it’s not that easy to find. If you have one of the latest versions of Blender, you should look in your user folder. For Windows that’s “C:Documents and Settings<username>Application DataBlender FoundationBlender.blenderscripts”.
If you haven’t already done so, you also need to have Python installed. Python is necessary to execute the script.
Once you got this out of the way, you will need to restart Blender. Check the file > export menu and verify that the ActionScript option is available. If it’s not, you probably placed the AS3Export.py file in the wrong directory.
Select the object you want to export and click the export to ActionScript menu item. It’s probably a good idea to enter a package name, as this will keep your code cleaner.
Now you should have one or more .as files: one for every mesh and texture in your model. This model doesn’t come with textures, so there are none.
Next we are going to use those files in a FlashDevelop project. The first step is to create a new project in FlashDevelop and put the Sandy 3D library inside the src folder. Like described in previous blog posts.
Now inside the src directory, you should create a directory with the same name as the package you specified in step 5 above. If you forgot the package name or are not sure, you can open one of the files that was created and check the first line.
That’s pretty much it: add the meshes as Shape3D objects to your scene, just like you would add a cube or other shape:
(you might want to add an appearance too)
You’ll notice I’m skipping a few steps here, but they are all very basic. If you download the example project and read through my previousblog posts, everything should be clear (feel free to comment if it isn’t).
You’ll notice a few issues/problems (correct me if I’m wrong):
The 3D object I choose, consists of several meshes. Each with their own texture (material in Sandy3D terminology). The export plugin doesn’t really help you on this point. You need to create every mesh and add them individually to the scene.
There seems to be an issue with the normal calculations. I did correct them in Blender as you can see in the small rendering at the top of my post, but still there seem to be missing triangles in the Sandy 3D version.
It looks like there is an issue with a bounding box or face culling. I still need to investigate this thoroughly.
One thing that has been bothering me with social services is the difficulty of creating a backup. What would happen if Twitter suddenly dissapeared, or even worse, what would you do without your Delicious bookmarks? It has happened a few times before, services like Geocities and Stick-it were closed almost over night (I’m exagerating, but if you are on holidays in the wrong period, you might come back to see your data gone)
Backups of your local system are important, but so are backups of remote systems. Although people tend to thrust third parties a lot more, most of them don’t offer any kind of data guarantee. Certainly if you’re not paying for the service, there’s very little you can do if your data is gone.
Twitter is certainly a bad offender for me. Although I haven’t been tweeting that much lately, I do try to share interesting insights and valueable sites, so I don’t want to see those go. So when I saw “Tweet Tweet”, a WordPress plugin to backup your tweets, I was immediately charmed. I noticed it hasn’t been updates in a while, but I think it is the only plugin that actually stores a backup copy of your Tweets.
As an added extra, you can integrate the tweets in your blog. Which I’ll probably do at some point, when I get around to updating the layout.
I’ve been continuing my pursuit for GTA Chinatown Wars completion. The game has really drawn me in and it gets better every time I play. I also tend to loose more and more time, which is a good thing. If you happen to have the game, but have put it aside, I must urge: give it another try. The controls take getting used to, but it will be so rewarding.
To extract at least something useful out of the whole experience, I’ve begun to document some of the questions I encountered and the answers I found (or didn’t, for some). I’ve wanted to try out Squidoo for quite some time, so here is my GTA Chinatown Wars FAQ lens. It doesn’t have the usual walkthrough you can find on pretty much any gaming site. This FAQ has questions that aren’t answered anywhere else, but that might be important for you to fully enjoy the game. Feel free to add extra questions.
And don’t forget to add me to your friends list if you also have the game. My Nintendo DS Friend Code code is 335201600798.
For a hobby project, I wanted to play and analyze MP3 files from a Java program. It turns out that’s not as easy as you might think. Probably due to licensing issues MP3 playback is not included with the standard Java development kit. Luckily there are some great people at JZoom (formerly JavaZoom) have created an open source library to help out: JLayer (formerly JavaLayer).
The documentation is minimal, but who needs it when programming a Java MP3 player is as simple as:
The code itself is also very legible, which is nice if you plan to mess with it. And they have a few add-ons. The one you will want is the JavaSound standard library. Using MP3 SPI, JLayer integrates perfectly with JavaSound, so you don’t actually need to learn any new APIs if you already know JavaSound.
If you’re an ActionScript programmer and you haven’t checked up on #tweetcoding, you owe it to yourself to take the rest of the day off and look it up. #tweetcoding is an ActionScript coding competition, organised by Grant Skinner, where you have exactly 140 characters (a tweet) to program something interesting.
You might think that this is an impossible mission, however, before you do so, take a look at the entries. There’s some astonishing things possible in just 140 characters.
It reminds me of those 4kb intros that were (and still are) created in the demoscene. It’s astonishing what people can do when faced within such small boundaries.