Restoring sounds to the iPad via memory lane.

I was confused as to why the iPad would play music and the sound on videos but fell silent while playing games. I eventually realised it was in Silent Mode. Swipe down from the top right corner to open the Control Centre and tap the Bell icon to toggle Silent Mode on and off.

Best of all – this also restored sound to the wonderful SoundForest app which had been silent for a while. Created by Justin Alexander it seems to have been abandoned but still functions on the latest devices.

Many (many!) years ago I wrote a little thing for the Amiga called Beat Sheets which triggered brief sound samples. It was part of a series I created for children called Kids Disk, which were distributed on floppy discs for free from Public Domain libraries via snail mail. It was written with AMOS, which was pretty fancy for the time, probably in 512 kilobytes of memory. I did add a hard drive to the Amiga at some point which added 20 megabytes of storage – which I described at the time as “like having a vast empty warehouse to store stuff”; for context the SoundForest video below is 155 megabytes.

Lo and behold (isn’t the Internet wonderful?) someone had a video of Beat Sheets in action which they seemed to be running in an Amiga emulator…

Beat Sheets on the Amiga 1993

Fast forward several decades and SoundForest is a far more sophisticated app, downloaded from the App Store and running on a hand held device with a terabyte of memory. It follows the same idea of tapping sound samples into a grid. You can extend your song by swiping to the left for a fresh sheet. Tapping the top bar stops and starts the player and double tapping changes the speed. Different sounds are available in the various environments – jungle, desert, ocean etc. Great fun.

Ten Years After

Rummaging around in here I discovered I still had a YouTube account, from the days before it became the quagmire of advertising and tracking it has become, which lead me to this old post from a decade ago:

The iPad was a mere one year old at the time but was already showing signs of its potential for making interesting noises. I suspect the missing video was for an, alas short lived and no longer available, app called Konkreet Performer which was an early attempt at new ways to interact with sounds on iPads:

A 2011 Konkreet Performer promotional video

Things have evolved over the years and today you have AudioBus to pump sound between apps, AUM to connect and mix instruments and effects and countless apps like TouchScaper and SoundScaper and even some that are not called somethingScaper. Although Smule still have some apps available their MadPad has also vanished; as has the Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra.

The other video in that old post was a young Frank Zappa performing on a bicycle during the Steve Allen TV show in March 1963. Many years ago I read about this but who could imagine that decades later and thousands of miles away you can sit on a sofa with an iPad watching the video and also learn how, in late 1962, the young Zappa would hang out in Don Preston‘s garage improvising soundtracks to various film clips. Preston had a range of junk percussion ‘instruments’ he used including a bicycle.

Banging on a bike

The iPad has created a whole range of new ways for music making from recreating traditional instruments:

to rethinking the way instruments work:

and Smule have a range of apps that cover both ends of the spectrum. The latest is the MadPad with which you record sound & video samples of any objects you happen upon. These are then laid out in a grid for you to drum on to create your masterpiece.

One of the default sets is a range of bicycle sounds. So following in the footsteps of a young [wikipop]Frank Zappa[/wikipop] on a 1963 edition of the [wikipop]Steve Allen Show[/wikipop]

and our very own Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra:

I banged away…

Apple! What were you thinking? And other one star rants.

With the arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) the App Store has seen a flurry of one star reviews…some of the more lucid ones consider all changes a personal affront and complain that they break the industry standards…

Alas the opportunity for such one star rants has not existed for very long so we need to fill in the blanks from the past…


I have just purchased [wikipop search=”Macintosh 128K”]the new Macintosh computer[/wikipop]. Where are the arrow keys and control key? How am I supposed mark out and edit a block of text? These Control key combinations are an industry standard…

I have just purchased the new [wikipop search=”iMac G3″]iMac[/wikipop]. Where is the [wikipop]floppy disk[/wikipop] drive? What use are these new fangled [wikipop]USB[/wikipop] ports? Will anyone ever develop any
peripherals for them? Why can’t we have industry standard [wikipop]SCSI[/wikipop] and [wikipop]Serial ports[/wikipop]?

Etc. Etc. You get the idea.

Just over a week ago we installed Lion on our modest iMac (2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT 128MB) and the MacBook (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256MB). Apart from the lack of AirDrop on the iMac all seems as expected. No slow downs or crashes as some one star reviewers have seen. Even the 2TB Western Digital external drive continues to chug away. Natural scrolling seems natural although the addition of a trackpad is probably a good idea… Which seems to be the point some people are failing to get. [wikipop]Steve Jobs[/wikipop] likes to quote the ice hockey player [wikipop]Wayne Gretzky[/wikipop] “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. Watch a young child using an iPad

and it is pretty clear (never mind the sales figures: iPads=9.2 Macs=3.95 Millions in the last 3 months) just where the puck is heading. Of course some people may prefer marking out and editing blocks of text with some obscure control key combinations.. so perhaps this process started with the first Mac which failed to provide such keys to force programmers to think in the new graphical way rather than continue with what they already knew. Today’s children will grow up finding the idea of dragging a mouse around on a desk to manipulate something on the screen as equally silly and archaic even if it was once an industry standard…

Me (not) Mobile?

Have just enjoyed the 60 day trial of Mobile Me. Having a house full of Macs which will be joined, I do not doubt, at some time by an iPad all that syncing and sharing stuff is just the job. Mostly I was using the picture gallery which, combined with a dinky WordPress plugin, provided a quick link from here to there.

The trial expired but no payment was charged. Instead an email complaining that something was wrong with my card details…

…which was strange. I checked the details and all seemed, as far as I could see, to be correct but still it was rejected…

…which was strange because the details of the same card are stored at the Apple Store where it is used (far too) frequently…

One of their suggestions was to purchase a box from the Apple Store, have that delivered by snail mail, discard the disc and packaging into the recycle bin, and type in the included activation key. [W:Cloud computing] eh! It’s the future!

In the past I have purchased QuickTime Pro and Aperture activation keys from the Apple Store but alas a Mobile Me activation key is not availabe.

So, for now, I have given up and rolled my own using the Gallery software.. Perhaps not as pretty as Apple’s but it does the job. A bit of PHP in the widgets over there (->) adds an image and a link. A bit of FTP adds a straight through connection.

The email said they would keep the account active until the 12th June which is just after WWDC and some rumours say… that Mobile Me will be free anyway. Hmmm!

iPods iPads ePads (that’s about the size of it)

While Apple makes us wait until the end of April for the iPad it is interesting to compare my original (2005) 1 GB iPod Shuffle and Martine’s new (2009) 8GB iPod Nano.
iPods

Mine plays music. Her not very much larger but considerably thinner one plays music… and videos and has a radio and a video camera built in and records audio memos etc. etc..

It was back in 2005 when [W:Saturday Night Live] were predicting that things would become even smaller…

But then we may not bother waiting for the iPad and just go with the ePad instead…