Theo Verelst Diary Page

Latest: 11 january 2001

I've decided after good example to write some diary pages with toughts and events.

Oh, in case anybody fails to understand, I'd like to remind them that these pages are copyrighted, and that everything found here may not be redistributed in any other way then over this direct link without my prior consent. That includes family, christianity, and other cheats. The simple reason is that it may well be that some people have been ill informed because they've spread illegal 'copies' of my materials even with modifications. Apart from my moral judgement, that is illegal, and will be treated as such by me. Make as many references to these pages as you like, make hardcopies, but only of the whole page, including the html-references, and without changing a iota or tittel...

And if not? I won't hesitate to use legal means to correct wrong that may be done otherwise. And I am serious. I usually am. I'm not sure I could get 'attempt to grave emotional assault' out of it, but infrigement on copyright rules is serious enough. And Jesus called upon us to respect the authorities of state, so christians would of course never do such a thing. Lying, imagine that.

Previous Diary Entries

Jan 11, 2000

Refrigerator Sparks

As I wrote, my current digital sythesizer circuit, a Z80 computer system, has a little circuit in it that drives a refrigerator with broken thermostat. In fact, it's a old one that probably has major motor startup glitches, though it runs fine on itself, it creates a major spark in the relais (an elctrically driven switch) when it is turned on or off. Those sparks create an electrical pulse in the wire connected to the electrical switch, the relay, that is driven by this circuit on one of my computer circuit boards.

The other circuits on the same chip, and the supply that drives the cjip don't like this pulse, and probalbly al lot of wires on and between the circuit boards acting as antennas also don't like this pulse, its realy a big spark in that relay! The result is that every time the little circuit turns the refrigerator on or off, there is a risk that the computer circtuits voltages (the 1's and 0's) are disrupted, and sometimes at a moment they should be stable. So it messes up every now and then, depending on the size and timing of the spark, which is depeding on the part of the 50 Hz mains AC voltage where the relay happens to be switched on. If the mains voltage happens to be near zero because it is just changing polarity, the generated disturbance pulses may not be so bad, when the voltage is + or - 380 volt (the maximum) that may be different.

This little coin flipping of having the computer making the actual sounds of my synthesizer prototyye mess up, and regularly needing to be loaded with the right program and data again, has been continued partly on purpose. I first wondered how it was possible this happens, knowing that I did some pretty eavy electronical shielding of of the pulses generated on the connection wire between the relay unit and the computer (which is like 10 meters or so), using clamping diodes, resistor network and heavy filter networks. I also know that CMOS circuits are sensitive to EMP (e.g. electrical discharge), aslo because of their high impedance, and that it is even possible that I blew some more circuits up by these pulses than I know about, making them sort of half-functional. Then their internal (chip) wires are sort of half or completely blown, but they still more or less operate. I don't have new ones now, and its some work to desolder them, so I left all in place, but at least it is a normal issue with these type type of fast, low power circuits.

The point is that I wondered about this phenomenon, which could also happen if I'd make a product which quite legally would drive lamps or a fridge or a garage door, which connects to a PC. I used an older PC, which also had a pin of its normal and official printer port blown up simply because the ground circuit of the other side is probably not up to electrical standards. I fixed it with a transistor inverter costing nothing more than maybe 50 cents, but in normal life this stuff shouldn't happen.

Now what? Probably there are 3 factors in the whole problem. The electrical grounding is not good, that I'm sure of, that means the 3'd pin in the power outlet isn't working good enough to connect all metal enclosures together to lets say the drain pipe's electrical potential of relative zero volt. The second is that the pulses I generate with the switch are probably in an electrical magnetical pulse stength range outside the normally permissable or expextable (I guess in the over 2 or maybe 4 kilo Volt range). And finally, I'm sure that the PC in normal sense works good enough through all this mainly because of its metal shielding to all external electromagnetical influences hitting it. That cage, the complete surrounding with highly conductive metal works excellent as a shield, nothing much passes that. I saved an old metal enclosure with easy to se lid for later testing purposes to shield my computer with, I didn't try it yet.

The synth computer works, however

Anyhow, every time again I need to reload the computer system with sometimes its program, and more regular its sample, because the sample is in normally unprotected memory in the computer, that is it can be read and written to, while the program memory section is protected from writing in normal operation mode, and normally that makes it not so sensitive to all this disturbance. Sometimes it is messed up just the same however, and than the computer program run amok, instead of just ending up with a garbled sound sample, which sounds sort of like modem noises for instance, or like a electronical (phone) buzzer, I've had semi-randomized samples suddenly leaking from the speakers which were like sirens and submarine noises. Not that I intend this, I can make them myself if I want, but some were remarkable. I let the fridge circuit in basically because I couldn't easily enough electronically prevent the pulses from entering the rest of the circuit, which is strange, and again, this type of product is normal enough, so the problem must be solved fundamentally.

Interestingly, all three causes of the problem may be valid reasons, and most interestingly, I could even make the computer mess up by just bringing the wire leading to the relay near the computer wire salad (not to be mistaken term: it works completely and good, even quite fast), that is no connection, just the proximity of the long driver wire combined with a switch of the relay to make the fridge turn on or off can disrupt the computer circuitry. An experiment to not even connect the computer up to the mains by giving it battery supply only I don't remember, maybe I tried. Anyhow, it means that the whole circuit somehow acts as an antenna, picks up a very large signal from the air, and responds to it. Remarkeble.

For the rest it works fine: plug into a standard printer connection on the PC, turn it on, run one program to initialize the whole system and decide what program it must run, currently the options are character display/simple calculator, two types of sample player, and a sequencer with sample player.

Then in principle it can simply be detached and used as independent device, but currently after this, another program on the PC can be run, the only needed switch on the microcomputer can be set to 'load data' instead of 'load program', and the PC can feed new data into the system at any time, which simply makes the microcomputer inactive for a fraction of a second, and then it continues using the new data. With another PC on it, it could even act as network switch or so.

Anyhow, it does get on ones nerves a bit when another nice sample has to be generated again because the microcomputer messed up because of food cooling again. The latest program to make the best sample from scratch does not yet save its samples, so it the program is stopped, samples have to be made from the start again. That is motivation to add some more functionality for sounds, the resulting (multi) samples, and to recall them from disk, and maybe even from the microcomputer, though that isn't very needed now, and use that wav file code I got from my other software, but developing in a sort of semi-C on a 286 is not a good enough a hobby.

This thing is getting there where it would work professionally, and it generates samples I didn't hear from many other PC/soundcard programs, and I did try not a few. I must have done my digital signal path and synth setup design right. And of course know how to make sounds, but I'd also know that on a range of other synthesisers and programs. Mainly it seems that the update of control signals the right circuit equivalents, and making most things as straight as possible seems to do a major part of the trick.

Further thoughts about physical moding synthesis

Considering this low computation power system works, it becomes al the more interesting to think about what is possible with the string simulator software and more in the form of interactive software and preferably a faster computer system making into a self contained synthesizer.

Any reasonable DSP can run a few notes of the software I have now simulataneously, and even though 8 bit is not up to my normal quality standards, I can stand listening to the results of a mainly 16 - 8 bit signal path quite well, and find only certain distortion and aliasing intermodulation real disturbing, but mainly even the 22 (maybe some more) or so kHz sampling frequency with the 9bit da is quite bearable.

That means that on a top dsp like the Texas Instrument one I described or maybe a motorola (I read they have built in ATM / T1 network interfaces and half a meg of sram) or Analog Devices (the latest being at least faster again, though not than those), this software may run with excellent results as a real time synthseizer.

My recent experience with the traditional analog synthesis forms implemented as digital signal path may well be combined with the physical modeling software cores (the thing with the string sounds being generated as .WAV files by modeling the string as a few hundred sections acting as springs and weights, see highlight page for instance) to arrive at at least new and definately interesting and good sounding synthesizer algorithms.

Commercial considerations

Just the additive synthesis with interpolated harmonics and my filter simulation and some more is already good enough to put in a pentium age geared software package, because I'm quite sure the sounds are worth it compared to quite some commercial packages. It takes marketing and work though, I know that from past experience when I sold and marketed (limited) a DX7 sound database package. Advertisements, promotion, sales channels, getting critical mass enough at some places to be talked about, it all takes work.

And as it is: I can't make a windows9? or 2k package yet, because I can only develop under dos at the moment, and it would take some time to do all that user interface programming I did many years ago again, but then under windows. On the atari st system, I did that to the point of making an almost perfect software product, no real bugs, everything minus a few small things up to high programming and presentation standards, an excellent product, that was nice, but to do all that work again will take time, and is definately, just like in that time, no longer a hobby.

And I than too have wondered about the potential in terms of sales of such a product. A few hundred, fine that should be, maybe a few thousand, but that would be easily it in my opinion not that much that I would make a living out of just that, certainly not short term. But then again, it is fun enough an area, and when it gets to the point of becoming acknowledged software, which is achievable with my potential in all needed areas, thats another story. And I don't need to graduate now.

I think I like the idea of making a complete synthesizer better by itself, if I can get that to the point where I can and want to get it, that is world top stuff, thats major fun.

Suppose I make a top audio system, put it in public, enfin, I'm sure that it was for more than one indirect reason but an amazing entry in normal enough markets seems to be definately not just free. Currently I don't have tools and parts enough to built some more of that stuff, the amplifier was definately a satisfactory product, and the speakers even with little extra work quite up to high end sound reproduction. Nice products to make in some serie when there are actual buyers.

Software is more elusive: illegal copies abound, and so does competition, and in the area of sound synthesis it is not too crowded, but I'm not sure I'd reach a big enough market share in some overseeable time in actual fact. Then again, trying is not a problem, and at least I can make some products that apart and together can built sometimg for real.

Business ?

Now what's business about? grabbing as much oil from your soil and becoming filthy right I gues, for some. Working hard and being smart enough and making a profit for others, I'm sure. Mingling in the very wrong circuit, paying or becoming part of various kinds of maffia, following the directions of God knows who, and becoming generally part of a certain system for again others, I'm quite sure.

Just to get the record straight, I did not only work officially and paid for easily a decade or so of my life, I also did official business in the past. I made a product for the dutch telecom (after a stage, hardly counts as business), I had a two person company, gave courses and made the aforementioned synthesizer sound database program as part of it, and actually sold it and made some money with the whole idea. As I wrote, after at least 10 copies of the package were sold as a student, I decided that investing more in advertisement and promotion (which happened a bit, and intensively to only a few, respectively) woudl take too much effort and time, so I decided to focus on becoming a qualified engineer and continue to finish my degree...

Anyhow, I know about tax numbers, VAT accounts, chamber of commerce, all that, thats not a problem, I also know that in a normal life I'd make a business plan and probably get similar responses as at the time from a bank (not that I needed them at the time), but currently that's a bit harder. So first I'll want to generate some fund by simple working, but thats not the issue here.

The synthesizer example is the best example, that is a product which at my level of lets say being challenged can (by me and a number of others) be made into a top product in terms of engineering, and even science. And in some areas even forward scientific research as applied to a product, and there are interesting cross connection with other, also new, interesting areas in science.

I guess that's why, apart from objective reasons, I liked most to focus on it, and that is still true. Objectively, I makes my position in my past graduation and university project clearer then any would have sufficient defence against there, contentwise. But like-wise the synth as a whole, in an advanced or well-developed form is attractive because of the research, complexity, and of course applicability side. I played good commmercial synths for years, many hours a week at least, without having made it myself, and payed major money (student norms) to purchase them.

Lets see. Suppose I want to put a product in the market, what do I do: link up with the world president and make a deal? Make an excellent prototype and let the establishment make me a (for them profitable?) position in their (micro) world? Just get moving and see what happens? Advertise like hell and get distribution and production going? Get a advertisement agency to do marketing research and planning? Put it on an ecommerce server? Simply start at least the production?

Jeesh. Donno. Hopefully forgiven quotes. I do know some things about it, of course, but the idea of businesswise having all on the line for some period is not pleasant if the world isn't normal enough. And I'm not sure it is, by and large. Many options require major money to start with, so I normally opt for a sort of bootstrapping approach which should be good enough. Beats being solemny in the university ivory tower or a solid job at least in interest, but it has to worth it. Now I'm lucky at least contentwise, suppose I would want to make things in a less high tech and content-competition area? Or is software also a deal machine? At least not completely, when I have a computer system, I'l need an operating system and the application I need, and if I don't get illegal copies for both, they're normal products. Lets see, 1917, crisis, nazis, Keynes? Japan, nuclear bomb? Free enterprise, eec, accountants, lawyers? Where does marshal aid fit? Nahh, the latter seems just pushy remark stuff. But then again, wasn't it also about money, in and after the crisis, and about work.

How political would it be to compete with microsoft and apple, lets say. Apart from what the names suggest, at least the lynux stuff prooves that a not commercial competition is valid, and some branches on the linux tree show that commercial in the area works fine, too.

Anyhow, practically, just getting some stuff of the ground raises the question of the clear and hidden modi operandi of the systems involved. It seems that I've been against great forms of evil in the past, and that they're far from gone, and that it is still completely worth going against child, sexual, and powerabuse, fake religions and extremely adverse ideologies, demanding and bringing about all kinds of horror in many ways, and that I don't like to see my position blackmailed into even seemingly becoming a part of such circuits. How much of society is part of these kinds of misery can only be guessed by me, but when I assume it is substantial, then effective ways have to found to fight them effectively. Not that business would potentially than not be have to replaced by an army, but still, the money game is, biblically and logically, quite likely a part of the main problem, and certainly part of business.

It seems that at least a lot is raised when I want to simply become or make some products for sale, though it should work. And then the synth thing is the most generally appealing for me I guess, though not necessarily the most effective to achieve other, more lifewise elevated goals. And of course in general the idea that products are sort of getting their legitimacy from be off spin of top enough research should at least be challenged, also outside the bare necessity product area. In high tech, I at least like it enough, though I am aware the major political and practical factor that there ae major companies that would have the potential to be far enough ahead and powerfull enough to pretty much blow everything away in their own target areas minus the equal competetion. The large industrial player idea is known of course, and the idea of being into advanced fun enough research at some point was a major consideration for wanting to work there, at least for some time. Clear enough.

Then how does it go with audio, for instance. Is it realy not possible to produce almost perfect hifi systems for the price of a few milk packages, for instane? Yes and no, I'm sure. I wouldn't say that product prices are artificial, but I am sure that some products could be made very cheap, and much better in certain ways at least than they are now. Lets say when I can produce a high quality amp with mos chips and well choosen parts, not everyone else can as well, but I can anticipate that if some companies want to produce a similar one, with equal quality and good case, they could do so for minimal enough prices, yet they don't. Evidently, this is not a problem or anomality, but that means that the market mechanism is guided by lets say fair profit or so political considerations.

Or all producers form an effective kartel, which automatically makes the whole game at least political. Then again, I can get a large variety of electronical parts

Gathered terminology

Some quoted expressions, first some funny ones. I'm not sure how many I'll come up with, but some were worth noting, I short ago read in a page about the development of software for palmtop computers:

Programming Techniques: Creeping Versionitis

A sonically nice one is from the french ircam audio research site, where the've translated the concept I've worked on called computation engine, as in the major computer circuit dedicated to heavy and fast computations directly into french as

(french accent on, and in 'do you have a reum, please':) moteur du calcul

Which was funny when I read it, by itself I'm not sure wether it is.

On another side of things, this morning I heard again 'teenage girl with a baby inside getting high on information,' 'buy a star on the boulevard, it's californication'. The one I rememdered for some already is the main point 'Itís understood that Hollywood Sells Californication'.

I looked it up, at least its music, comtemporal, good composition, interesting enough, and something to say. That sticks in the head. With permission. (from me, I'm not sure about the song text, but here it goes)

                    Psychic spies from China 
                    Try to steal your mind elation 
                    Little girls from Sweden 
                    Dream of silver screen quotations 
                    And if you want these kind of dreams 
                    Its Californication 

                    Itís the edge of the world 
                    And all of western civilization 
                    The sun may rise in the east 
                    At least it settles in a final location 
                    Itís understood that Hollywood 
                    Sells Californication 

                    Pay your surgeon very well 
                    To break the signs of aging 
                    Celebrity skin is this your chin 
                    Or is it war your waging 

                    First born unicorn 
                    Hard core soft porn 
                    Dream of Californication 
                    Dream of Cailfornication 

                    Marry me girl be the fairy to my world 
                    Be my very won constellation 
                    A teenage bride with a baby inside 
                    Getting high on information 
                    And but me a star on the boulevard 
                    Itís Californication 

                    Space may be the final frontier 
                    But itís made in a Hollywood basement 
                    Cobain can you hear the spheres 
                    Singing songs off station to station 
                    And Alderonís not far away 
                    Itís Californication 

                    Born and raised by those who praise 
                    Control of population everybodyís been there and 
                    I donít mean on vacation 

                    First born unicorn 
                    Hard core soft porn 
                    Dream of Californication 
                    Dream of Cailfornication 

                    Destruction leads to a very rough road 
                    But it also breeds creation 
                    And earthquakes are to a girlís guitar 
                    They are just another good vibration 
                    And tidal waves couldnít save the world 
                    From Califonication 

                    Pay your sugeon very well 
                    To break the signs of aging 
                    Sicker then the rest 
                    There is no test 
                    But this is what youíre craving 

                    First born unicorn 
                    Hard core soft porn 
                    Dream of Californication 
                    Dream of Cailfornication 
Red Hot Chilli Peppers, of course.

While I'm at it, I'l quote another, taking a bit of a chance, but it seems appropriate. It's from an album made when I was quite small, I sang this one and others (not in performance) major periods in highschool, and its even more worth a listen then a read, though that works, too. It's from Queen's classic 'Night at the Opera'

'In the year of thirty-nine' 
Assembled here the volunteers 
In the days when lands were few 
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn 
The sweetest sight ever seen 
And the night followed day 
And the story tellers say 
That the score brave souls inside 
For many a lonely day 
Sailed across the milky seas 
Never looked back never feared never cried 
Don't you hear my call 
Though you're many years away 
Don't you hear me calling you 
Write your letters in the sand 
For the day I'll take your hand 
In the land that our grand-children knew 
'In the year of thirty-nine' 
Came a ship from the blue 
The volunteers came home that day 
And they bring good news 
Of a world so newly born 
Though their hearts so heavily weigh 
For the earth is old and grey 
Little darlin' we'll away 
But my love this cannot be 
Oh so many years have gone 
Though I'm older than a year 
Your mothers eyes from your eyes cry to me 
Don't you hear my call 
Though you're many years away 
Don't you hear me calling you 
Write your letters in the sand 
For the day I'll take your hand 
In the land that our grand-children knew 
Don't you hear my call 
Though you're many years away 
Don't you hear me calling you 
All your letters in the sand 
Cannot heal me like your hand 
For my life still ahead pity me 
'39, by Brain May.

I'l stop here I guess, but check out on eof my favorites at the time, If you can get the mpeg or so somewhere (I'm sure the're there), even better, sponsor whoever still distributes the album and listen to this early enough quality audio processing product and musical material. The text is here for prophet's song by Brain May (Queen) again. What the hell, I read the next on the album, and it needs quoting

             Good Company
     Words and music by Brian May

Take good care of what you've got 
My father said to me 
As he puffed his pipe and baby B 
He dandled on his knee 
Don't fool with fools who'll turn away 
Keep all good company oohoo oohoo 
Take care of those you call your own and keep good company 
Soon I grew and happy too 
My very good friends and me 
We'd play all day with Sally J 
The girl from number four 
And very soon I begged her 
Won't you keep me company? 
Oohoo oohoo oohoo oohoo 
Come marry me for evermore 
We'll be good company 
Now marriage is an institution sure 
My wife and I our needs and nothing more 
All my friends by a year by and by disappeared 
But we're safe enough behind our door 
I flourished in my humble trade my reputation grew 
The work devoured my waking hours but when my time was through 
Reward of all my efforts 
My own Limited Company 
I hardly noticed Sally as we parted company 
All through the years in the end it appears 
There was never really anyone but me 
Now I'm old I puff my pipe but no one's there to see 
I ponder on the lesson of my life's insanity 
Take care of those you call your own 
And keep good company 
These guys were british, of course.

Little bicycle race quote, the part I didn't remember:

You say coke I say caine 
You say John I say Wayne 
Hot dog I say cool it man 
I don't wanna be the President of America 
You say smile I say cheese 
Cartier I say please 
Income tax I say Jesus 
I don't wanna be a candidate for 
Vietnam or Watergate 
Cos all I wanna do is 

Bicycle bicycle bicycle ...

Dutch preoccupations ?

Lets say that all nations have certain properties, some that hold them together, some by pure chance, some that shouldn't be there, and most probably have their source in the heavenly and the spiritual.

It would seem to me that potential shared property in holland (the netherlands that is), apart from some others like what could be categorized as 'gezelligheid' ('ll go into this later at proper opportunity), smallness, lets say uttered ideas that people should stay ordinary, and some well known others, seeming from for instance the law texts on property, is ownership, and maybe they'd like to extend that to the personal, too. It might be this is a general property of certain types of people, but when I've been abroad I'd think it is not such a major factor. Descriptions are not very easy, but the idea of an independent, self-thinking person seems to be almost unthinkable without some clear, known, and confirmed, effective entanglement by others, possibly indirect. I guess the partial inverse of the flying dutchman idea.

I, and the constitution are against this idea, on ideological, practical, and even theological grounds, and basically I think it sucks bad.