Friday, February 23, 2007

Vista and Pro Audio

I cringe every time a new Microsoft OS comes out, and I shy away for the first year as a matter of course. But Vista seems like it may be a little less buggy than say, the dreaded Windows ME. In a nutshell, heres what I've found out about whats different for multi-track, low-latency DAWs in Vista. Remember, I'm no expert.

1. Your GPU is now assigned more tasks than previously. This means that you'll be losing less CPU cycles to the flashy graphics and animations that come embedded in most DAWs, like meters, clocks, automation animations, and your GUI in general. What I hope this means is that Windows Vista will also use your GPU to run all the eye candy that comes with the OS. I always hated super-flashy OSes, like OSX and Vista, because I thought I was probably using too much of my CPU on the graphics that were there to sell the OS to general purpose users. Supposedly, Vista scales to the hardware it's installed on, meaning that slower PCs or PCs with weaker GPUs will have less animation in the OS. Personally, I could deal just fine with NO animation in my OS.

2. Finding things: easier. I probably don't have to tell you this, because its been one of the most touted features of Vista. The new native search function in Vista claims to be almost instantaneous, providing results with each keystroke, a lot like the search in the latest firefox does. The idea is, this will help people move away from the file-folder sort of logic thats dominated computing for 20 years. As hard drives get bigger and cheaper, this makes good sense, but I'll still be using plenty of folders in my audio apps at the very least.

3. Driver Hell: I don't have to tell you this either. Since computers are currently standing on the fence between 32-bit and 64-bit OSes, you'll have that many more drivers to accidentally try and install. The 32-bit driver, and the 64-bit driver(signed and unsigned). Here's what the manufacturer of my audio card has to say about the issue:
M-Audio has been keeping pace with changes to the Windows Operating System since the release of Windows 95 nearly 12 years ago. We are very excited about the opportunity to offer continued support to our Windows customers as the Windows Pro Audio community begins the gradual transition to the Vista era. Over the past year, we have worked directly with Microsoft’s Vista team to prepare for this release.

Currently, M-Audio does not offer Vista drivers or Vista software updates (beta or otherwise). As soon as Vista drivers or updates for any product are available, this FAQ and other portions of our Web site will be immediately updated to reflect this. Due to the nature of software and driver development, we are not able to provide exact dates or timeframes for when specific drivers will become available—but please rest assured that supporting Vista is a top priority for us.

Gee thanks, guys. I feel like I can really "rest assured" now. Other manufacturers have been a lot better, so I'm sure this is probably not going to be a big deal. But its going to be a hassle for the first year, like it is with every major OS change.
From what I can glean from microsoft's site, just switching to Vista is not going to improve or diminish your audio performance. But if your soundcard manufacturer does choose to release drivers that take advantage of the new Vista audio architecture, you could experience better performance.

4. You're going to approve a lot of things. UAC(User Account Control) is the default mode in Vista.
With User Account Control in the new Windows Vista operating system, you can reduce the risk of exposure by limiting administrator-level access to authorized processes.

Right! And I can click allow for about a million separate applications. I get the feeling that this is going to become a lot like firewalls are to your average user: this annoying box that just keeps popping up asking you to approve things until you just become so frustrated that you click them all the instant they come up. Whether or not these things will pop up and hang audio applications remains to be seen.

Is anybody out there using Vista for pro-audio and willing to comment on how its going?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Biotech Youtube Collection

Here's a few interesting Biotech related videos, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. This first one has the added bonus of having the Forbidden Planet soundtrack.

More creepy monkeys with robot arms. Note the caption in this one: "Reenactment"

The fact that heavy metal has begun to address biotech related issues is a sign of its coming relevance to everyday life.

Naturally, people who oppose the science tend to be morons and ideologues- like the morons who oppose nanotech, nuclear power, and other related spooky sciences that your average joe cannot understand. How can you tell someone who's starving or making a living on their crops that they should use crops with lower yields?

Enjoy the vitriolic comments from people arguing for the rights of cockroaches to be free and unfettered by robotics experiments.

Those roaches are enormous.

Also, heres a totally overhyped presentation of interesting video of the Braingate NI. Once again, the comments section has anxiety about robot overlords transmitting Fox News directly to your brain. Also, bionic men.

Of course, theres no shortage of people who are willing to call all of biotech the coming of an "apocalypse" or of the "end times." But tell that to the paraplegic and the starving. I love a wacko as much as the next guy, probably more, but anti-scientific thought is so potentially popular that its extremely toxic to our society.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I Am Not Dead.

For the three of you out there who may still pay attention, I have not died. I am in the middle of a busy semester of my senior year at MTSU. I really, really do not enjoy my classes, and they are sucking up all my time with stupid, silly, pointless busy work. My wife has been out of work for about 3 weeks, which means I have had no time to myself for music in almost a month now. I'm not dead, but I might be going crazy.
I can't work on music with somebody over my shoulder, or even in the house. Not that I've been a fountain of good ideas or anything- I don't think I've been able to come up with anything decent in 6 months. Its a depressing creative drought, but I've been getting a lot better at technical skills. I've been building a large sample library and listening to a ton of music.
I've almost got another mix ready, this time on a very specific theme: space race related records. A lot of crazy children's records and general cold war anxiety. Should be really fun. Going to the moon was such a big deal, and there were so many records about it.
Anyways, I just wanted to tell you all to hang in there.