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Apple Drops Snow Leopard Security Updates, Doesn't Tell Anyone

Tapewolf Re:Is anyone actually stuck on Snow Leopard? (241 comments)

I'm not sure you can actually get Lion anymore. I waited too long on Snow Leopard, and once Mountain Lion came out, that was the only upgrade offered, despite the fact it wouldn't run on the 2007 hardware. I bit the bullet and upgraded the hardware. I also considered ditching it at that point, but there are still a couple of pieces of software I need OSX for with no Linux equivalent and the win32 port doesn't run in WINE.

about 1 month ago
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FFmpeg's VP9 Decoder Faster Than Google's

Tapewolf Re:Faster is not necessarily better: Quality matte (101 comments)

So, is the quality of the output equivalent or has it suffered due to compromises due to the speed increase?

It probably just means the reference implementation wasn't optimized very much.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: An Open Source PC Music Studio?

Tapewolf Re:An oddball solution (299 comments)

A couple of additional points: I use Rosegarden for the performance, partly because I can stick it on a laptop if I ever do some kind of live show, but also because SONAR was very temperamental about synchronizing to an external source. Rosegarden has had a tendency to flip out on occasion (I've sent patches), but it never, ever drifts the way SONAR would.

The other thing I should perhaps have clarified is that I mix down to 1/4" because I've often had problems with the audio glitching during digitization (and it was even worse in Windows). If I mixed it directly into the computer, Murphy's law says the take would glitch. Whereas if it's mixed to tape, I can go back and re-digitize it. It also means that I can go back and re-digitize the tape in some future format if need be.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: An Open Source PC Music Studio?

Tapewolf An oddball solution (299 comments)

I do a lot of MIDI composition. Cakewalk was the first piece of MIDI software which I was really able to get to grips with, originally in Windows 3.1. I run an old version of SONAR now, under WINE. I use that for composing, but then export it into Rosegarden for recording. I did most of this in Windows until 7 came along and broke the 4x4 USB MIDI interface I was using - it was easier just to stay in Linux from that point on.

For sound generation, I use hardware, mostly rackmount syntheszers. You can find these second hand on ebay quite a lot - the Roland JV series are pretty good general-purpose sound sources for starting out. They have the advantage that they are completely OS-agnostic, and apart from some weirdos like the Creamware ASB or the Receptor, they don't require online activation and they also won't die the year after the maker goes bust because OSX or Windows broke some API it uses. If you must use VSTs, Rosegarden and a couple of other packages will act as a VST host, probably using bits of WINE to do so. The MUSE Receptor does this as a hardware device (again, using a modified version of WINE) but although a Linux device, it is up to the hilt in DRM and remarkably expensive for what it is.

Where it gets unusual is recording and tracking. I record quick demos of the piece using Audacity, but for the real thing I track it onto tape, using a timecode track to control the sequencer. This isn't a legacy system, it was a deliberate decision because I wanted to get some idea of how things were done before Protools became widespread.

If I didn't do it that way, I'd either be looking at using a standalone DAW such as an Alesis HD24, or Ardour. I few years ago I scored a TASCAM 1" 24-track machine, and before that I was using a pair of synchronized 8-track machines, but to be honest that was a royal pain. I mix the 24-track tape down to a 1/4" stereo machine, and digitize the stereo master from that. I also have a 24-channel JoeCo recorder which I use to take digital safety masters of the multitracks.

I am well aware that this is a weird thing to do in this day and age, but I figured I may as well throw it into the pot. In any case, there are people like Slugbug and Freelove Fenner who do the whole thing completely in the analogue domain, but that's not really what the question was.

about 3 months ago
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Government Lab Uses Smartphones To Measure Gamma Ray Exposure

Tapewolf Re:Digital camera elements (105 comments)

I've always wondered why we can't do simple infrared or ultraviolet examinations of things with our smart phones.

I have a sneaky suspicion it's because not all clothing is opaque in those spectra, but I like neat science toys, and wish my phone was a little more tricorderish.

Actually, many digital cameras will pick up infra-red. Try sticking a remote control in front of one - depends on the camera, but a lot of them will show it lighting up.

about 3 months ago
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Valve Releases Debian-Based SteamOS Beta

Tapewolf Re:Why nVidia only? (211 comments)

Q: What are the SteamOS Hardware Requirements?

A: NVIDIA graphics card (AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon)

about 4 months ago
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Cisco Releases Open Source "Binary Module" For H.264 In WebRTC

Tapewolf Re:Misconceptions (95 comments)

As I understand it from reading the article and the comments, Cisco will subsidize the patent licenses if you use the binary. If you prefer, you can use the source code, but then you will have to deal with the patent licensing yourself.

"Nathan – We will select licensing terms that allow for this code to be used in commercial products as well as open source projects. In order for Cisco to be responsible for the MPEG LA licensing royalties for the module, Cisco must provide the packaging and distribution of this code in a binary module format (think of it like a plug-in, but not using the same APIs as existing plugins), in addition to several other constraints. This gives the community the best of all worlds – a team can choose to use the source code, in which case the team is responsible for paying all applicable license fees, or the team can use the binary module distributed by Cisco, in which case Cisco will cover the MPEG LA licensing fees. Hope that answers the first part of your question – Nadee, Cisco PR "

about 6 months ago
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Kickstarter For Open Source GPU

Tapewolf Re:utterly utterly worthless (108 comments)

With the rise of ARM, SoC parts with fully open GPU APIs of amazing power are essentially almost ZERO cost. Tiny circuit boards are available for experimenters and developers with first class 2D, 3D, Video and JPG acceleration, and even video ENCODING is becoming a common hardware feature in low-end parts.

Care to name any? Most of the ones I've heard of with any form of acceleration are using a proprietary GPU core, where you get a binary blob for Android and bugger-all else. Maybe things have changed since, but last I hard the driver situation was worse for ARM cores than it was in the PC space. Indeed, that was the rationale behind Mir - that it would be able to use the Android blobs under Ubuntu.

about 6 months ago
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Over 100 Missing Episodes of Doctor Who Located

Tapewolf Re:We don't remember what we saw, only what we fel (158 comments)

The point is, even if we unearth all those missing 106 episodes, the actual episodes might not stand up to all the hype and expectation heaped up on them.

'Tomb of the Cybermen' actually did, for me, at least. I thought it was a rather slick production given the budget. Other stuff from that era is distinctly variable in quality (e.g. the little city model in 'The Krotons' which I honestly thought was supposed to be a heap of stones).

Nostalgia doesn't really enter into it for me because I never got to see the original broadcasts. In actual fact I only got into Dr. Who really when they repeated the Tom Baker episodes in the 90s and I found them to my liking.

about 6 months ago
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Over 100 Missing Episodes of Doctor Who Located

Tapewolf Re:Interesting. (158 comments)

These distribution prints - which were 16mm film, not tape - were passed from country to country, usually ending up in the tail ends of the empire in Africa & Asia. They were supposed to have been returned or destroyed at the end of their tours, but it wasn't unusual for them to be put into storage, grabbed by local staff for their own archives, or sold on the sly to broadcasters in neighbouring countries.

I wouldn't be shocked if someone had been striking copies of the films either.

about 6 months ago
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Steam Machine Prototypes Use Intel CPUs, NVIDIA GPUs

Tapewolf Re:Quite a bit of hardware (187 comments)

It does seem to be overkill, especially when you realize that the majority of games will be getting played on and streamed from the windows PC elsewhere.

I don't think that's the long-term goal, though. The whole project seems to have kicked into gear because the Windows App Store means they can't rely on Windows indefinitely, and they seem to be trying to get devs to port to Linux natively. That entails a beefier GPU than you'd need for a pure streaming solution.

about 6 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

Tapewolf Re:doesnt matter (216 comments)

The way I heard it - which could be yet another rumour - there was a fire but it didn't damage anything significant. However, the Fire Brigade pitched a fit because the BBC had littered the tapes and films here there and everywhere in a bunch of spare rooms. This posed a fire hazard and as a result the BBC decided they needed to have a clear-out.

about 6 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

Tapewolf Re:Of course the actual copies existing is in doub (216 comments)

Oh, one of the more fun stories about the BBC junking master tapes was when they decided to get rid of a lot of audio masters during the 80's. Owing to the bureaucracy involved, the archivist (Mark Ayres) went through the paper trail and discovered that they had been moved into a spare room to be skipped, but then the process had been interrupted and the tapes were all still sitting there a decade or so later. (From the 'Alchemists of Sound' documentary)

about 6 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

Tapewolf Re:Of course the actual copies existing is in doub (216 comments)

It's unfortunate that the BBC were so shortsighted and "recycled" the master tapes of so many great series. Of course, everyone knows the famous Monty Python story of how that series was almost lost too, but was saved by Terry Gilliam (who basically stole the tapes and put them in his attic). But very few series from that era were so lucky.

I did not know that, though I've often wondered why they survived when so much else was lost. Also, "stealing the tapes" is not exactly a trivial exercise - the original Quad tapes were massive - 2" wide, 10.5" diameter and about 5KG each. If they had 2 episodes each, that's about 22 tapes he'd have had to sneak out of the archives. Not exactly something you can fit in your pocket...

about 6 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

Tapewolf Re:BBC's most effective copyright strategy in effe (216 comments)

Yes, you're right and this is why the weblink I gave above is a kaleidoscope of colours for all the different formats between 1970 and 1974; fortunately all those episodes are now in colour to varying qualities. The "Chroma Dot/Colour Recovery" process of which you speak has been used on 12 episodes of Dr.Who with varying degrees of success, and two non-Dr.Who episodes. But, in a nutshell, the Jon Pertwee now exists in colour in its entirety.

Ah yes, I knew I'd forgotten something - checking that link out. Thanks, it was well worth reading. I particularly liked how the NTSC icon was washed out compare to the PAL one...

about 6 months ago
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First Few Doctor Who Episodes May Fall To Public Domain Next Year

Tapewolf Re:BBC's most effective copyright strategy in effe (216 comments)

AFAIK all the Jon Pertwee episodes exist, but not all of them exist in colour. In these cases, the Quad tapes were erased but the 16mm B/W copies for export survived. Some of them exist in colour but derived from low-quality copies (IIRC they managed to digitally marry the chroma signal from a Umatic copy of the NTSC conversion with the higher-res 16mm print to improve the quality).

A couple of years back someone devised a way of partially reconstructing the colour signal by digitally decoding the RGB triads on a high-res scan of the print, so the B/W-only episodes may yet be colourised.

about 6 months ago
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Why Steve Albini Still Prefers Analog Tape

Tapewolf Re: how can you not play an audio file? (440 comments)

Can you give any examples of music that is permanently lost to an unpopular format or bad DRM? It may happen in the future that some music is abandoned due to software but music is already being lost due to lack of playback hardware. He can stomp his feet and say that tape is best but there will be a time when no one makes tape players any more, it is pretty unlikely that there will be a point in the future when we stop using computers to play back media.

How about the Doomsday Book? Not music, but an unholy hybrid of laserdisc media using a proprietary variant hooked up to a 512k BBC Micro.

To be sure, there are a lot of examples of things that would have been lost if they had been digital - most of the recovered Dr. Who episodes, that Woody Guthrie concert from 1949, the stereo masters for Jesus Christ Superstar, Court of the Crimson King and untold others.

A lot of people in this thread seem to have been pooh-poohing the idea of using tape as an archival format, saying that you should store everything digitally and constantly reconvert it to new formats - for some reason this isn't seen as a problem, even though all of the things I've listed above were found in a shoe box or in the back of a long-forgotten cupboard etc. 40 years after they were made (nearly 60 for the Guthrie wire recordings).

No, mag tape is not perfect, and yes, some of the more exotic formats are getting difficult to play back. But archival masters are in standard formats for that reason, and it's not outrageously hard to make a machine capable of playing them back - even the sticky shed issue is understood and fixable. Mag tape is not perfect, but it can be played back after being left forgotten in a vault for decades and that is something digital does not currently offer.

Bottom line? Make digital and analogue copies. That way, at least one of them should survive.

about 7 months ago
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Why Steve Albini Still Prefers Analog Tape

Tapewolf Re:Obsolescence (440 comments)

The hilarious thing about this is that I don't think anyone even makes analogue tape machines, right now. I checked Fostex, Studer, and Tascam. No tape machines being made.

Given this .. how easy will it be to play an analogue reel to reel tape in a few short years ?

I'd say it's more like decades. I believe Otari are still making the 5050. There are others who are reconditioning older machines (ATR Service for one) and the market for rubber rollers and drive belts has become something of a cottage industry. The big problem for manufacturing new decks is that ebay is flooded with the things and that makes it very, very difficult to compete with new equipment.

about 7 months ago
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Why Steve Albini Still Prefers Analog Tape

Tapewolf Re:why not a record then? (440 comments)

Saying tape has a longer life is silly. I'd have no idea where to get an 8-track player today even though it's an analog format.

Same with a record player, but I could make one pretty easily. (there's a reason why we shot a record into space instead of a tape)

Really, though a documented and uncompressed digital file, properly kept track of, could last forever similar to a record even if we lost our codecs it would be easy to write a new one.

To turn your argument around, I've had CD-Rs go bad and those are a digital format... It is worth keeping in mind that archiving something onto tape is a known science, and that 8-track was a cheap, disposable format that no-one ever used for archiving.

There are standard archival formats for tape (1/4", usually 15ips, 2 track, no NR, either NAB or IEC curve depending if you're in the US or Europe). Back in the day this was pretty much the universal format - the album would be mixed to that, the duplication master would go to the pressing plant in that format, when they remaster something from the original master tapes today, the source media will be in that format also. To play it back, you need a machine that runs the tape in front of a pair of coils at a constant 38 cm/sec. Unless the tape is of a type that goes sticky, you should be able to recover the audio, regardless of age, and that is not something you could say the same of for a Protools project on a flash drive.

about 7 months ago
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Why Steve Albini Still Prefers Analog Tape

Tapewolf Re:"Digital recordings will be unplayable" (440 comments)

And the longevity of analog tape? It decays. We have a steady stream of older musicians who are desperate to use our ancient reel-to-reels for a chance to digitize their brittle, fragile old tape recordings.

No storage medium is permanent, but PCM audio has remained mostly unchanged since Max Mathews, Bell Labs, 1957.

Depends on the substrate and adhesive. I suspect there are Nazi-era tapes that are still playable (this was certainly the case as of 1991, see 'The Secret Life of the Video Recorder': http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gOULWR4h4Io#t=1017 ...17 minutes in)

There were a lot of problems with tapestock from 1975-1994 which used a synthetic substitute for whale oil. Japanese tapes that carried on using whale oil (Maxell) and formulations prior to this are rock-solid, and Ampex/Quantegy tape from 1995 and later have proven stable to date. When it comes to being able to stick it on a shelf and play it back 20 years later (or in the case of 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 42 years later), digital formats simply aren't in the same ballpark - and I suspect a lot of this is because the density has increased so much.

about 7 months ago

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