Plain Mashups were yesterday; today is supposed to be Pipe

Ever looked for a new apartment with special features such as lake side online and fat up with doing e.g. google maps look-ups for each inserat over and over? Or showing artist pictures while “mouse overing” at last.fm? This is supposed to be possible with pipes (I haven’t had the urge trying it out myself, yet).

See how O’Reilly describes the new service:

The Internet is transforming itself from a collection of web pages into a huge distributed database. There’s a wealth of data out there-not just RSS and Atom feeds, but XML data on where to find a new apartment, how much to pay for a new car, how to see if there’s a storm approaching. If the Internet is your new database, you need a tool to mine that data-to merge and sort and search and filter that data. That tool is Yahoo! Pipes. Widely touted as an RSS feed aggregator, Yahoo! Pipes is more than that. With Yahoo! Pipes you can manipulate virtually any web-accessible XML data source, and then publish these data mashups for anyone to use-anywhere.

How I found out? Well, I meshed up some old school media (good old FM Radio) with RSS, piped it through my web browser and on via an essential audio player and combined supper with news consumption in time space.

Is there an overlay software (display marker) to mark/draw right on screen just as if it was a real print outs?

The ideal scene I have in mind is using a tablet PC in full screen mode, eg. displaying a PDF presentation or a web page design, and some meeting attendant draws his/her ideas/changes/notes on the display, marking areas, writing notes right in place, etc. A piece of software that is (graphically) on top of the display actual in sight to the observer, i.e. has the focus, collects all those “screen touches” and assigns them to the open file. But this should also work with just a normal PC/mouse set up or any tough screen environment. The hard bit would be, so I reckon, for the software to assign some “notes capture” to a certain page of an open document been presented, a subset of the document that is. The two ad hoc solutions that come to mind include either a support for the overlay software by the presenting software, so the assignment is actually done by the presenter. Or else the overlay software hast to have an understanding of all possible file formats’ structures, i.e. PDF, bitmaps, just anything that should be marked. Now, if this file is opened the next time, and the overlay software is activated, it should from it’s database display all notes associated with this document’s page.

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I Had a Dream

… a day dream that was. I was walking through my flat listening to music of my favourite kind. Well, tell me something new you might think. Here it comes: Each time I walked from one room to another the music speakers in the next room would be activated by the N95 (or any other Upnp aware device) playing the music. So the music would only be played in that sorounding I was in. Of course the music was not locally stored on the N95 but came via Upnp (or whatever) from my file storage via ether.

That’s not so unrealistic as I thought at first. I vaguely remember reading about a sound system that can address all present speakers individually via remote control even. That, of course must have been centrally controlled, though, and should have been proprietary, i.e. only working of all hardware comes from the same manufacturer. But how about if that worked via Upnp (or anything the like)? I guess the tricky bit would be the hand over of the signals transporting the sound information, i.e. manage gapless playback as if everything was wired and feed by broadcasting the sound to the speakers. Of course the speakers most likely would have to support some kind of wireless technique that the signal could be transmitted by.

Also, some mode that does address each speaker individually should be implemented, regulating the sound volume for each box (or at least each room) so the toilette is not blasted away… But I guess that would be rather easy and does not even need a modulated infrastructure as needed for the “sound hand over” scenario described above. What a cockaigne world it would be to have an abstract layer every manufacturer sticks to and supports to handle “cross-platform-interaction” like needed here. Well, I’m looking forward to building that cockaigne and living in it. How about you?

What would be even greater to have a stationary player, say in the living room, controlled via, eg. Upnp, but still be able to have the hand over working, i.e. have the system notice where the sound should be played in which volume. Another attempt could be some kind of tracker that knows where the person listening to the music is sojourning. I don’t think that would be the best approach since most likely it needs complex structures. Plus I can’t think of a way to keep that tracker “inter-platformly” scalable for many scenarios and systems.

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Music Analysis — On The Way to Diploma Thesis Topic

To step onwards in finding a subject for my diploma thesis I’ve googled a littel and found the following:

First of all I looked for what topics are being worked on at my uni to maybe narrow it that way. Our Institute for Digital Media seamed the best guess showing a seminar by Dr. Dieter Tr├╝stedt called “Elektronische Musik in Theorie und Praxis” (electronic music in theorie and in practice”). Only after a while I noticed that it emphasis on, or I should say is making music, not analysing it. Nevertheless I was pointed to a book by Miller Puckette (Dept. of Music, University of California, San Diego) called “The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music” including some parts about wave analysis in generell, digital music, etc.

Issues I’m looking for are as described before, more precisely finding similar music as a starting point. I also found a few (not yet reviewe) papers:

  • Music Database Retrieval Based on Spectral Similarity by Cheng Yang
  • Pattern Discovery Techniques for Music Audio by Roger B. Dannenberg and Ning Hu
  • Toward Automatic Music Audio Summary Generation from Signal Analysis by Geoffroy Peeters, Amaury La Burthe and Xavier Rodet
  • Audio Retrieval by Rhythmic Similarity by Jonathan Foote, Matthew Cooper and Unjung Nam

Also, what came to my mind what to maybe take into account how humans (mammals) distinguish music (or complex sounds) and thus learn more about the brain, also.

Another thought that hit my mind concerning the use of such an analysis was to use it in, say meeting recording scenarios as some kind of search algorithm. Imagine you have some 3 hours of meeting recorded (possibly conference call) and need some certain part of but cannot find the time position by any means. Maybe by the analysis spread out above one can use a search just as we do nowadays with text: Speak the word or phrase one is looking for (with a different voice — your own) and find the position in the audio file.

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Audiophile’s Techno Thoughts — Playlist Generators

There are some thoughts I’d like to a. document but b. share, too. They are about — no, not about Techno music! — programming issues, or just ideas I would find useful if they where already realized. Maybe they are and only I don’t know about it jet. But also, I might be the one realizing them… let’s see.

Well, one thing that came to my mind by playing around with the MusicIP Mixer: Wasn’t it cool to have a free library like thing laying around that could easily be user by a software music player (or even extended to video, i.e. media player) to generate playlists similar to the MusicIP Mixer? To be more precise the features I’m thinking about are:

  • generate playlists by user selected music title from library, that is giving back a list of songs from the user’s music library that have similar mood, tempo, harmony, …
  • start playing tracks from the lib. The user can skip or pin it. Either one “pin” (as in MusicIP Mixer) is enough to start generating the list or maybe even keep on with more appropriate music (closer in the above terms). That’s especially useful for those audiophiles that just cannot remember artists or track names (like me). But also it’s faster in terms of I don’t have to sit down first and think about what I’d like to here right now but rather can just find out what I’d wanted to listen to in the first place.

To brake it down, the key note here is to have two methods generating playlists that are end-user orientated. You may ask: “Well, what the hack is so special about it? You mentioned MusicIP Mixer yourself, that does exactly that!” No, it does not. MusicIP Mixer, as fare as I know, is closed source. But more importantly the list generates are encapsulated within the Mixer software and cannot (again, as far as I know) be used by other software that MusicIP Mixer itself (I’ll digg in to find out when time permits). The generators that is; one can have the generated lists send to one’s music player of choice, easily. Which is fair dinkum.

An example: As of now I chose foobar2k to be my favorite music player as it is very customizable and produces good enough sound for my HiFi (gapless playback, replaygain, multiple format support, “tabbed playlisting“, has plugin API to name a few features and components). I runs more or less 24/7. Through the foo_playlist_tree I wrote a query which gives me 10h of random music, not yet listened to or not for more than two weeks. Of course there are also queries by audio format, … just by any combination of normal audio file tags plus more. But still if I might just want say 40 min of jogging music… mmh, that I could manage by all means, plus also the hassle of time consuming transfer to your portable player if your on the run… Not a good example. OK, imagine sitting on the couch with your fb2k (keyboard remote control configured, of course) ready to blast your ears away but you just can think of what so listen to. Even with my iPAQ running Minibar2k this would not really what ease my relaxed mood. Getting it? Comments, as always, appreciated!

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