ECE Show II in 1990

Read more “ECE Show II in 1990”

Here are some of the pictures I took at the ECE Show II in London, September 1990.

The fourth part in my blog series about my computer chronicles had these words about it:

I went there on a ship with Niels from Channel 42 and his friend, Henrik. The Ikari guys also went there. I didn’t try to sell our music at the show this time, I was just there for fun. I briefly met Charles Deenen but it was merely to exchange a sentence or two. And just as I feared that we would never find each other at the show as agreed, Deek from Scotland suddenly popped up and introduced himself.

C64 Freaks

Here’s a collection of photos from 1988 to 1999 of various oldskool computer freaks, including yours truly. I apologize for the potato quality of the earlier ones – both my camera and my scanner at the time sucked.

People who know me would probably want me to explain those two last ones. I’ve been overweight most of my life, but around that time I actually managed to lose more than 30 kg.

Too bad it didn’t last long. 🙄

High Sturgeon’s SID Collection

I’ve now been listening through a ton of folders in DeepSID while curating for the Decent and Good sort modes for each letter folder in MUSICIANS. If you are even remotely familiar with the High Voltage SID Collection, you may be aware that there’s a lot of garbage there.

Sturgeon’s law would have a field day with this collection.

After a while listening through so many tunes, a pattern of repeated rookie mistakes started to emerge. I repeatedly stumbled into the same mistakes over and over – surefire hints that the composer was subpar, or at least started off on the wrong foot. Of course, there are the obvious hints like bad harmonies or artsy noise experiments, but the following are much more common indicators.

A sign of a subpar folder is when…

  • A tune starts with filtered noise sounds resembling waves at the beach, then typically overstays the welcome. Yes, I get it, you thought this was awesome. We all did. Now get on with it.
  • Discovering that reusing the exact same notes in the other voices can make the tune so much louder. Especially annoying with thunks. Having to turn down the volume for a SID tune is surreal.
  • The beginning of the tune has a simple pattern, perhaps only one voice of bass notes, then repeating this for several minutes until something finally changes. Praise be the Faster button.
  • A conversion of Axel F, The Final Countdown, Crockett’s Theme or the theme of Airwolf are present. There may still be hope – great composers also converted those – but they usually do not bode well.
  • The notes for the leader is meandering in a pseudo-random manner, indicating that the composer just typed in whatever. Also, typically the next note is different than the previous one.
  • Repeating rookie mistakes, like pulse sounds pulsating past their boundaries thereby producing a nasty click, or sliding down then wrapping around to produce high-pitched squeaks.

There are also other things that you would think might be in the same vein, such as using Future Composer or Sound Monitor, but that’s actually not fair. Maybe the composer didn’t have access to anything else but was still talented. Even Deflemask has managed to produce awesome tunes in spite of its memory curse. I rarely let the choice of player color my first-hand impression of a folder.

Except maybe Rock Monitor.

Alligator

Here’s the SID tune I made for Vandalism News #68. It’s my second in GoatTracker and 8580 SID chip only.

Thanks to Cris Ekstrand for recording it on a real C64. He originally did it for me so I could hear if it sounded all right on the real deal (I didn’t have the SidBlaster yet back then) but I also used the same recording for SoundCloud. A first, by the way – previous SoundCloud recordings were just reSID emulations.

Here’s the SID tune: Alligator.sid

And here’s the discussion about it on Facebook.

SidBlaster Tic Tac

SidBlaster Tic Tac

Read more “SidBlaster Tic Tac”

After composing a few tunes in GoatTracker and CheeseCutter, both editors that use the reSID emulator in Windows, I thought it might be prudent to test them on the real deal. Stein Pedersen (of Prosonix fame) then recommended the SidBlaster, a small device that can be equipped with a real SID chip.

The device is connected to the USB port of the PC and supports the HardSID DLL standard. This makes it compatible with the classic SidPlay, ACID 64 Player Pro, GoatTracker, VICE, and more.

I got in contact with the creator of the Tic Tac design, Andreas Schumm, on Facebook. He created and sent me the device for 83€ via PayPal. I had mentioned that I intended to use it with an 8580 SID chip and all of its jumpers were already set accordingly when I received it. It was also encapsulated in a Tic Tac box.

Earlier that day, I had also received the 8580 SID chip which I had bought on eBay for 33€. I took the device out of the Tic Tac box and put the chip into the socket. On the GitHub page for the device, there was a document about how to set jumpers, how to connect, and various other practical information.

One of the caveats in that document was that I should avoid using USB hubs as they could be trouble. I first tried connecting the device to a USB port on the front edge side of my PC cabinet, but this didn’t work. I had to use a USB port on the back of the PC before it was detected properly. I guess the front edge line of USB ports is actually regarded as sort of an internal USB hub.