O is for Oscillators

Who does not love messing about building software synthesisers? I know I do and a basic component for these are oscillators.

Oscillators are used in all manner of things but it is the wobbly wobbly oscillations that can be used to produce a sound that are of most interest. Such things have been around since the late 1800s but today one can recreate their functions with computer software. Here is a simple example I made using the excellent Audulus app.

Yosemite on a 2007 iMac

One star reviews in the App Stores are a constant source of fascination and the release of OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) has provided rich pickings. Of course it is frustrating when things are not working properly but many reviewers seem to imagine that the problems they experience with their computers are universal and affecting everyone – there would be rioting in the streets if that were the case. Some even seem to suggest that positive reviews are some form of Apple inspired conspiracy…

who wrote five star

The reviewers share their homilies so the rest of us can benefit from their wisdom and insights. One common theme is that Yosemite should never be installed on an older computer as it will be unbearably slow…


I write this on a 2007 iMac with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor which is the oldest Mac that is able to run Yosemite. It is used and abused on a daily basis. The update to Yosemite was going to be the excuse to clear it out, reformat the drive and have a fresh clean install but I chickened out as it would be too much hassle to set everything up again and so Yosemite was just slapped on top of everything else…

Over 40000 emails (I did not notice the palindromic number when I took the screen shot)…

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 20.10.28

Over 1000 apps in the Applications folder…

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 20.11.06

A couple of hundred bits and pieces installed with Homebrew and a menu bar full of stuff half of which I have forgotten what they do…

Menu bar icons
Menu bar icons

Not to mention half a dozen terabytes of external storage hanging off the back.

So how does Yosemite run on this aged, under powered, over loaded wreck? Splendidly…

A couple of minutes worth of Activity Monitor monitoring the activity (that is what it does best) recorded with Screen Flow – so they both occupy high ratings but nothing too taxing.

Thankfully some reviewers manage to figure out that their frustrations are fixable…

15 min fix

Whilst others plant their tongue firmly in their cheek…

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 10.34.03

Set up Xiki with Aquamacs

Step by step set up using Aquamacs editor with the awesome Xiki…

From these instructions.


A Mac running OS X Mavericks which should have Ruby 1.9.3 as the default version.

Jewellery Box to manage your Ruby versions (RVM) and gems

The Aquamacs editor.



Open the Terminal and install the Xiki gem…

$ gem install xiki

Verify that all is well…

$ xiki

A Xiki directory will have been created in your Home folder so jump into that…

$ cd ~/xiki/

Then run the set up script…

$ bash etc/install/el4r_setup.sh

You will now need an editor that will see an invisible file (the dot at the start of the name hides the file from being listed in a Finder window: .el4r). I use BBEdit but the free version called Text Wrangler will do the job…

Show hidden files
Select the Show hidden items option

Add these lines to the end of the init.rb file in the .el4r folder within the xiki folder within your Home folder…

$LOAD_PATH.unshift “~/xiki/lib”
require ‘xiki’

KeyBindings.keys # Use default key bindings
Themes.use “Default” # Use xiki theme

Fire up Aquamacs and it should drop you straight into Xiki…

Welcome to Xiki in Aquamacs
Welcome to Xiki in Aquamacs

Happy Birthday Mac!

Can it really have been 30 years ago today that the world was introduced to the Macintosh?

Before the presentation the 27 year old Steve Jobs was shaking with fear and anticipation; “I’m scared shitless” he uttered and then stepped on stage and changed the world – a feat he would repeat several times.

Today, when all computers work like the Macintosh it is hard to imagine what was so special about windows, menus, scrolling text, graphics, speech synthesis etc. all chugging along on an 8 MHz Motorola 68000 processor and 128 Kb of RAM. The wonderful Cathode can take your modern Mac back to those wonderful pre-Mac days…

Jobs and Steve Wozniak had defined what a personal computer would be like and how it would work. IBM dominated the world of computing and were venturing into the fledgling personal micro computer market (micro computers as opposed to the mainframe and mini computers widely used at the time). The Apple II dominated the personal computer market of the day; introducing the world to the Spreadsheet and providing work for a small company called Microsoft..


The Apple II would continue to sell well despite the appearance of the Mac. The personal computer belonged to the individual and would empower them in their daily lives; liberating them from the corporate controlled IBM computers operated in the basement by boffins. That was the Big Brother that the Mac was designed to destroy….

Jobs saw the personal computer as something you could pick up and carry – the Apple II was a wedge shape so you could tuck it under your arm and the Mac had a built in carrying handle. The IBM personal computer models fail this basic requirement…

Just one year later Jobs will be sacked not to return to the then nearly bankrupt Apple in 1997.

Shove Lemur from an iPad on a Mac

Adapted from this Windows tutorial…

It is much the same procedure but as the Mac speaks fluent MIDI there is no need to add anything.


A Mac
Ableton Live
Lemur app
Shove template
ClyphX/Push folders
(Requires a RAR Unpacker if you do not have one)


Right click on the Ableton Live icon and select Show Package Contents


Drill down to the MIDI Remote Scripts folder




Rename the Push folder as Original_Push

Unpack the RAR file containing the ClyphX/Push folders and put those folders in the MIDI Remote Scripts folder

If your WiFi network is liable to interference/lag you should create an ad-hoc network. The video below just connects via the regular WiFi network.


In the iPad’s WiFi settings select your ad-hoc network if you created one

Start the Lemur app and load the Shove template from the Lemur editor on the Mac

In the Mac’s MIDI/Audio set up Utility select the Network button

Connect the iPad to the Session

Open Ableton Live and then its Preferences

Select Push and Cyphx as Input Devices and the network session as Input and Output


Shove away…

Minecraft is not damaged and should not be moved to the Trash

I will usually dismiss most applications that claim to work across Macs/Windows/Linux as not worth downloading to take a look at as they are usually written with Java and so they will be slow and clunky and ugly. [wikipop]Minecraft[/wikipop] is the exception that proves the rule.

It seems a fairly common problem on a Mac that Minecraft refuses to run reporting that it is damaged and needs to be Trashed…

Minecraft damaged warning window

Although my son has had it running on his own account on this Mac (OS X 10.8.3 / Java version 1.7.0_07) it has never worked for me. The official fix suggests that it is related to the Mac’s Gatekeeper and you should right click on the Minecraft icon, select Open from the menu and then Open again in the warning window. This did not work for me.

There are various fixes suggested on various forums but none seemed relevant to my problem. Mac apps, beneath the single icon, are bundles of all the various bits and pieces that the app requires. I went mining into the app with a right click and selecting Show Package Content….

Show Package Contents

and I found the Java (.jar) file to launch Mincraft… MinecraftLauncher.jar which was in the Java folder which was in the Resources folder which was in the Content folder
(or in the order of opening … Content > Resources > Java > MinecraftLauncher.jar)

Double clicking the MinecraftLauncher.jar file opens the Minecraft window, and you can log in, and it downloads the bits it needs, and then… it crashes 🙁

Looking through the crash log there was mention of LWJGL (Lightweight Java Game Library) files and so they were updated from the LWJGL site.

These need to go into the Application Support within the Library. Select Go from the Finder menu and then Library (if you do not see Library listed hold down the Alt key). From the Library folder select..

Application Support > Minecraft > bin

and pop the lwjgl.jar and lwjgl_util.jar files into there. Then in the Natives folder add your other lwjgl files.

Now double clicking the Minecraft icon opens a window… that informs you that Minecraft is damaged and should be dumped in the Trash… but double clicking the MinecraftLauncher.jar icon opens the Minecraft window and away you go 🙂

MInecraft working

To save digging down to the launcher everytime I right clicked on it and selected “Make Alias” to make a shortcut icon that I dragged onto the Desktop.