Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Getting started - Hue-topia for Mac

After following these steps which will only take a couple of minutes, you’ll know how to make and use presets, set your lamps to turn on and off on schedule and use effects.

(This tutorial was written on 8 August 2018 and supersedes the previous version of the same tutorial.)

The latest version of Huetopia is available here

1.  If you’ve not already done so, make sure your Bridge and some bulbs are switched on and start Hue-topia. The first time that you start the app it will try to find your bridge and attempt to log in. Finding the bridge requires an internet connection.

The only thing that you should need to do is to press the button on the bridge when instructed, to pair it with the Hue-topia app. If there are any problems at this stage, see Troubleshooting in the Hue-ser manual

Make and try two presets

2. turn the brightness and the whiteness of all of your lamps all the way up and make sure all are on.

3. Click the [+] button (Save preset) and type ‘All white’ for the name of the new preset. OK that.

4. Turn the brightness and also the whiteness of all of your lamps to three quarters of the way up.

5. Click the [+] button (Save preset) and type ‘All warm’ for the name of the new preset. OK that.

6. You now have two presets and can use these from the Presets button in the toolbar and also from the status bar. Try this.

Make a preset that affects only certain lamps

7. Go to 'Manage presets...' from the Presets toolbar button or the Lamps menu.

8. Choose your preset from the window that appears, and press 'Lamps affected'. You'll now see a checkbox alongside each lamp in the main control window. Uncheck some of the lamps, press 'OK'.  Your preset will now only affect the lamps that remained checked.

Set your lamps to turn on and off on schedule

9. Press the Schedules button or ‘Show schedules’ from the View menu (command-2 also shows this window).

10. Press the [+] button at the bottom-left of the Schedules window.

11. Type ‘Daily’ for the name, select ‘On & Off’, select ‘group: all’, type 17:00 for on and 23:00 for off. Leave all days selected. Click somewhere outside of the small window to save and close those settings.

All lamps are now set to switch on at 5pm and off at 11pm. Note that this will work even when your computer and Huetopia aren't running, because Hue-topia copies its schedules to the bridge.

Make and try an effect

12. Press the Effects toolbar button, and press the [+] button below your list of effects.

13. Type the name 'Pastels', and press the [+] below the timeline strip a couple of times to add a couple more nodes. Space them out equally

14. Click inside the colour swatch of the first node and choose a nice pastel colour. Do the same for the other two. Adjust the cycle time to a value that you like and make sure 'Loop' is selected. The preview swatch should show the effect animating. When that's working as you like, OK the sheet.

15. Return to the main window. Choose a light or group that you want to apply your effect to. Look for the little 'effect' icon in the control strip (ringed below). Click that and a menu of your effects will pop up. Choose your new Pastels effect and Hue-topia should start animating that effect for the chosen bulb or group. While the effect is running, the little icon will rotate.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

How do LIFXstyle and Hue-topia look when built to run on the new dark mode?

This good:

I'm really chuffed with this, in fact I'm increasingly pleased with dark mode, it's really easy on the eye and Apple have done a great job.

If I had applications that really needed dark mode then it's my lighting controllers Hue-topia and LIFXstyle. The last thing you want when you're adjusting mood lighting is a bright laptop screen illuminating the room.

The new versions with dark mode enabled will be ready before too long.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Dark mode and Integrity / Integrity Plus / Integrity Pro / Scrutiny

I have to admit that I really love dark mode. It's very easy on the eye and it jarrs a little when you have to look at a web page with a white background.

(Does anyone know whether it's possible for a website to detect a mac's dark mode setting and display a dark version using an appropriate css? Let me know.)

I did naively expect that the OS would simply draw all windows and controls in the dark colours. But it's up to each developer to build their apps under the new SDK. And carefully check for hard-coded colours and unsuitable images within the app.

We're just about there with Integrity / Integrity Plus / Integrity Pro / Scrutiny  and it's been a pleasure to do.  The 'dark mode enabled' version of all of this family of apps will be 8.1.5 (a minor point release, as there are very few functional changes).

[update 26 July 18 and again 8 Aug 18] Scrutiny 8.1.8 is available and looks great under dark mode. Obviously will only look dark on 10.14 with dark mode selected.

[update 30 July 18 and again 8 Aug 18] Integrity, Integrity Plus and Integrity Pro are also available with dark mode enabled. As above, 10.14 is required to see them in dark mode

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Migration to secure (https://) site

This has been a big week but is now https://

This is a well-overdue move. Google have been offering small carrots for a long time, but at the end of this month, they'll be adding a stick as well. They're switching from informing users when a connection is secure, to warning users if a connection is insecure. Google Chrome is making this move but other browsers are expected to follow suit.

Well-informed web users will know whether they really need a connection to be secure or not, but I suspect that even for those users, when this change really takes hold, the red unlocked padlock will start to become an indicator of an amateur or untrustworthy site.

Once the certificate is installed (which I won't go into) then you must weed out links to your http:// pages and pages that have 'mixed' or 'insecure' content, ie references to images, css, js and other files which are http://.

Scrutiny makes it easy to find these.

1. Find links to http pages and pages with insecure content.

First you have to make sure that you're giving your https:// address as your starting url, and make sure that these two boxes are ticked in your settings,
and these boxes ticked in your Preferences,

After running a scan, Scrutiny will offer to show you these issues,

You'll have to fix-and-rescan until there's nothing reported. (When you make certain fixes, that will reveal new pages to Scrutiny for testing).

2. Fix broken links and images

Once those are fixed, there may be some broken links and broken images to fix too (I was copying stuff onto a new server and chose to only copy what was needed. There are inevitably things that you miss...) Scrutiny will report these and make them easy to find.

3. Submit to Google.

Scrutiny can also generate the xml sitemap for you, listing your new pages (and images and pdf files too if you want).

Apparently Google treats the https:// version of your site as a separate 'property' in its Search Console (was Google Webmaster Tools). So you'll have to add the https:// site as a new property and upload the new sitemap.

[update 15 Jul] I uploaded my sitemap on Jul 13, it was processed on Jul 14.

4. Redirect

As part of the migration process, Google recommends that you then "Redirect your users and search engines to the HTTPS page or resource with server-side 301 HTTP redirects"  (full article here)

Monday, 9 July 2018

Vinyl Shine getting started

Press 'Online' and see whether you see sound waves from your input.

If not, visit your System Preferences > Sound > Input and make sure that the correct device is chosen for input. If an input volume control is available there, make sure that it's set to a suitable level (not quite reaching the peak at the loudest parts of the music).

If you need it, display the graphic equalizer. Enjoy the music.

The Pop filter button will switch the pop filtering on or off.

To capture the processed sound, press the Record button. When you've finished, the same Record button or switching the Online button off will take you into Editing mode.

You can select a region, and use the usual scrolling gestures - left and right to scroll the playhead back and forth, and scroll up and down to zoom in and out on sections of the music (centered on the playhead).

When you save, if a region is selected, the selected region will be saved. Otherwise, all of the sound in the view will be saved. Visit Preferences to choose lossless (.aiff) or AAC (.m4a)

Vinyl Shine for Mac is available here:

Friday, 6 July 2018

Vinyl Shine for Mac - follow-up

Since last week's announcement of Vinyl Shine, the app seemed to approach the point where it was usable. But then that seemed so far away from beta as it was lacking functionality.

At its core is the pop filter. That had taken a large amount of the development time and was becoming pretty effective. 

But the app surrounding it wasn't so functional. Opening a file, running the filter and saving the clean file quickly gets tedious. Even if you run the filter over a whole side of an LP at a time, you first needed to run something else to record the sound and then something else to split and add track names. 

So it seemed best to build more supporting functionality. We returned to the original aim of 'real time' filtering. Much coffee later and we have recording and real-time-pop-filtering done. Also splitting and saving individual tracks. It's becoming much more useful.

Scenario 1. Plug your record player into the computer. (USB or line-in). Simply use Vinyl Shine as a player, with the pop-filter running in real-time*.

There's a 10-band graphic equaliser applied to the playthrough / recording  with the RIAA curve as a preset. Make your own default settings too.

Scenario 2. With the pop filter on, press record and put the needle down. Record a single track or a whole side, then switch to editing mode to normalise and select and save individual cleaned and normalised tracks. 

I'm also pleased with how 'cool' it's running. With many efficiencies still to be made, its cpu use is fine.
[update 8 Jul 18] After a weekend of working on refinements and efficiencies, this is how things are running with pop filtering switched on (testing here using a 2012 Mac mini).

* ok, it's running with a buffer. It's slightly odd putting the stylus down on the record and hearing that 'needle down' sound through the speakers a fraction of a second later, but otherwise the delay isn't really noticeable. [update] there's now an option in preferences for the amount of buffering, this can help avoid glitches in the playback caused by buffer underrun. This is only for listening pleasure. Even if the underrun happens, the glitch won't appear in the recording.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Announcing Vinyl Shine for Mac

This is probably the most satisfying new release ever from NPD at PeacockMedia Towers. It represents a new direction of exploration for us.

Work on this was prompted by me failing to find a plugin component that could be used by my favourite sound recorder as a filter to remove pops and crackles, or a plugin for a player to filter the pops in real time during playback.

The work has involved a steep learning curve with Apple's AVAudioEngine. The documentation is far from thorough and there's very little sample code around. That has not been fun but learning more about sound processing (DSP) and getting hands-on with some C++ really has been enjoyable.

We now have a standalone app that will open a sound file, apply pop filtering (pretty quickly - currently <6s for a 4 minute track, but I hope to significantly improve this).

The pop filter is applied, along with EQ and normalisation. For some reason, LPs seem to vary quite widely in sound (I think this is a different thing from playback equalization curves for early LPs and 78s.) Either way we intend that the graphic EQ in Vinyl Shine be flexible enough to handle all of this.

Options are minimal. A commercial app I currently use for pop filtering works ok but the result isn't perfect and it offers a shedload of options. What do those options mean? What am I supposed to change? Surely a pop is a pop, identify and remove it. Fewer options is the Mac way.

Vinyl Shine allows you to listen to the result and toggle between original and cleaned audio. And save the result as a new file when you're happy. (The final offline render is very quick, ~3s for a 4m song).

For the time being it currently exists as a standalone app and is working pretty well, making crackly recording much more listenable. It'll shortly be available as a free beta.

pops, clicks and crackles are identified, highlighted visually and repaired