Army Knife Needs a New Sharpener

Buzzer Jonas Sundstrom, who has faithfully maintained the open-source Army Knife program, needs to move on, and this outstanding BeOS audio tool needs a new programmer to maintain it.

If there was ever a utility we would want to preserve and maintain, it’s Army Knife; the ultimate tool for editing the attributes of MP3 files.  Its capabilities are deep and broad, and it’s fast, fast fast!  It lets you make changes to single files or large number of files.  It parses folders and sub folders in a single bound.  It can copy attributes over to ID3 tags and vice-versa.  It lets you extract attribute data from filenames, or embed attribute data into filenames.

If you would like to maintain Army Knife, you can let me know and I’ll put you in touch.  dane ayt bayland dayt nyet.

Hyperion – This Time For Sure!

Well, admittedly, after many fits and starts by many different people,the title of this story might be a little optimistic, but hey…hope springs eternal!   I was happy to read that a new multitrack audio editor is in the works for users of BeOS/Haiku/ZETA.  It’s posted in the Audio category at the newly reopened designer site, osdrawer.

According to the designers,  Hyperion is a multitrack audio recording and editing suite with an easy to master graphical user interface. It is suited for both professional and home user who wants a simple interface with full power.  It is listed as in the “planning” stages and will tentatively be distributed under MIT licensing.

The prospect of doing multi-track editing in a stable OS environment was  a big part of what drew me to the BeOS platform in the first place, all those many years ago.  I’m still waiting for it to actually happen; maybe this time will be the charm!  Hyperion was a mythological greek Titan.  Here’s hoping there’s more Titan than myth this time around.  All kidding aside, I do wish them all the best success.

The Hack is Back

Longtime BeOS enthusiast-turned-OSX-journalist Scott Hacker has turned the lights back on at his popular old BeTips web site, giving the community a place to begin posting and revising BeOS/Haiku hints and tips.

Having re-gained control of the domain, Scott rre-published all its contents in WordPress, and is  now accepting comments on tips, and is actively seeking contributors to the site who are interested in cleaning up the old data and in writing new BeOS and Haiku-specific content.

If you’d like to read more about the effort to bring BeTips back, you can read Scott’s own accounting of it at

BeTips was never “just a good idea.”  It was a truly useful resource, and it’s a great thing to have it back.  Thanks, Scott!

TuneTracker Systems Acquires SampleStudio

TuneTracker Systems has purchased the source code and rights to SampleStudio, Xentronix’ two-channel audio editor, and will be continuing its development with the goal of offering it as a product to its customers and to the larger BeOS/ZETA/Haiku community.  Designed by Buzzer Frans Van Nispen, who also created the Refraction graphics program for BeOS, SampleStudio offers a nice feature set and an attractive interface..  TuneTracker Systems will be working to smooth out its performance, give it recording ability, and provide a method to select input and output hardware.

A programmer with BeOS audio coding experience is being sought, to assist in bringing SampleStudio to the community as a stable, finished product.  For information, call Dane Scott at 920-273-0543 or write to tunetracker azt bayland dawht net.

TuneTracker Systems Announces “TuneBridge”

A new utility that gathers up data on all the audio files on a BeOS/Haiku/ZETA hard drive and organizes it into a database for use in a variety of professional products has been introduced by TuneTracker Systems, makers of the BeOS-based TuneTracker Radio Automation System.

The $79.95 “TuneBridge” program hunts down audio files on any mounted hard drive volumes, gathers their paths/filenames and attribute data, and organizes it neatly into a file importable into spreadsheets, databases, and most-importantly, into third-party music selection programs like Music 1, MusicMaster, Selector, PowerGold, and Natural Music.

The benefit of the latter is that it gives TuneTracker System products broader appeal to buyers.  While TuneTracker’s included “TuneStacker” music selection software does a great job, many larger stations like being able to stick with the music selection software they already have.  With the introduction of TuneBridge, they’ll be able to pull in all the data necessary to create playlists in the music selection program of their choosing.

Music selection/scheduling software can then be used to create complete playlists called “program logs,” complete with masterfully-chosen music, and all the automation commands necessary for TuneTracker to broadcast them over the air or Internet.

3IVX Being Added to “Thriving” Haiku

3IVX, pronounced “thrive-ex,” is a popular video encoding format that opens the door to a whole world of video for any operating system that supports it…and Buzzer David McPaul is making it happen for BeOS and the up-and-coming Haiku operating system.  Here’s a leBUZZ “exclusive” from David, who describes the history and current status of the project in his own words:

“I have a side interest in video encoding/decoding and a number of
years ago, the 3ivx company invited me to port their MPEG-4 ASP
encoder/decoder to the BeOS platform.  I did an initial version of
their 3.5 release and then later updated it to 4.5 (This can be found
on BeBits).  This allowed BeOS users to create and view videos from
AVI and MOV files that conform to the MPEG-4 ASP video specification
Part 2 (DIV3, DIV4, DIV5, XVID are the main fourcc’s you will see).
But BeOS lacked a MP4 extractor/creator so we could not play MP4 files

“Since then despite the BeOS company going away, 3ivx have generously
allowed me to continue to have access to their source code.  Over the
last few years the company has added an AAC decoder/encoder (MPEG-4
Audio specification) and are working on a MPEG-4 AVC (aka H.264)
encoder/decoder (MPEG-4 Video specification Part 10).

“So I am trying to get their current MPEG-4 ASP encoder/decoder ported
to BeOS and their new AAC decoder (Not sure yet about the AAC
encoder).  I am also writing a MP4 extractor so BeOS can play MP4

“So what does this mean for Haiku, you ask.  Currently Haiku has a
native decoder plugin API but no encoder API.   After Marcus checked
that in I ported the 4.5 3ivx decoder to haiku as a proof of concept
(ie not released) and wrote the MOV and MP4 readers for haiku but for
MP4 files we were missing audio.

“So once I have the current 3ivx decoder, aac decoder and MP4 extractor
working on BeOS I will produce native haiku versions of the decoders
and update the MP4 reader.  Then when haiku gets a encoder API I want
to create a native version of the 3ivx encoder as well.

“Future wise, as long as 3ivx continue to allow me to port their code I
will.  I am particularly looking forward to getting an AVC decoder
working as their are a lot more MP4 files that use this these days.”

The short version?  Haiku users can look forward to viewing
MP4 files with video and audio decoded by 3ivx and an MP4 reader, courtesy of David McPaul!

Whither Haiku? A Point Worth Pondering

I think I like the direction that question is headed, because it begs the point, “Is Haiku destined to be the ‘generic desktop OS of hobbyists,’ or will it *also* have a noted area of strength that gives it special appeal to a particular audience?”

Windows is a dominant, general purpose OS that’s used for everything. The Mac has appeal to creative people like graphic artists, publishers, videographers, etc. Linux, appeals to geeks, programmers, and businesses looking for cheap servers and office software. What does that leave us?

Let’s go back to our roots to see if we can find the answer. If Haiku were to follow in BeOS’ footsteps, it would be a desktop-focused OS indeed, but with a specialty in the handling of high bandwidth media; especially audio and video. I think it could be again, and with much greater success this time around.

Major audio developers who were sick of Windows were lining up to write software for BeOS at the time of the great “focus shift.” Be, Inc. had many of the top names in audio right at the brink of porting important, serious stuff to the platform when Be pulled the rug out due to financial trouble. If a respected, growing, open-platform OS were available that offered good hardware support and a strong base of dedicated volunteer developers (showing it has a future), I’m confident audio companies would begin lining up to create products for it.

At its peak,, which focused on BeOS audio development, was getting over 1,000 hits a day, and I believe a lot of the enthusiasm for using BeOS (Haiku) for audio is still there, ready to be tapped. Just the existence and hope of Haiku and its growing prospects of successful emergence have already kindled fires under the boiling pots of a number of audio developers, at least one of which has interest in commercial development for the platform. Hobbyists have also been dusting off promising old BeOS audio projects and begun working on them again. Chatter in the e-mail groups is also noticably audio-related again.

And there’s TuneTracker. Without overstating its role, it’s probably safe to say that TuneTracker has established a certain notoriety for BeOS among audio people. Maybe we can build on that by trying to give Haiku an audio focus, as BeOS had; getting the media kit in great shape, and putting strong emphasis on driver support and enhanced audio capabilities.

At least, it’s something to consider.

Waaay Off Topic, But… has released its new Kindle e-book reader, which does a lot of stuff right, but also disappoints in two important areas.  Accessibility and price.  But it has the form factor just about right.

I think it’s all about form factor, and the standard size and shape of the traditional book is pleasing. The book evolved to its present shape and form because it works well with the size of our hands, has a page width our brains comfortably scan, and a range of text size that suits our eyes when the book is comfortably readable in a resting-armed position, etc. On the other hand, books have some serious drawbacks that have always bothered me, ever since I was a kid. You have to wrestle them to keep them open, sometimes cramping your thumbs…or you have to practically break the binding of them to get them to lay fairly flat in your hands so you can read all the way to the inside of a page. They age, yellow, get musty, store poorly, take up amazing amounts of space if you have a lot of them, and weigh a ton if you have to tote them around. Their covers wear, their bindings fail, and their pages wrinkle. You can stop to scratch your nose, accidentally close your book, and lose your place. Some books are printed with squintingly-small text, which gets annoying as you hit your middle-ages. Books also have the unfortunate quality of being fairly linear and difficult to search. How many times have I read something in a book and later wanted to refer to it, or tell someone about it, and spent ages trying to find the passage again.

I think the form factor and features of Kindle and some of the other book readers that have come out of late seems just about right. I can imagine snuggling up in a chair and reading from one, just like I would a book. It’s the right physical dimensions and page size (I have difficulty picturing myself curling up with a nice PDA), can adjust its text to my eyesight, holds a whole library of books in a 10 ounce package, is just as clear to view outdoors on the patio as it is in the den, will undoubtedly remember what page I’m on if I get distracted, will let me mark my place without having to use a comb or whatever’s within reach, and will let me skip around in it rapidly, leaping to chapters rather than flipping and thumbing a lot..

While I haven’t learned all the features of Kindle yet, I have to assume that if it can search Wikipedia, it may also be able to search its own contents, meaning the reader should be able to rapidly find something he/she read earlier. That’s a real plus.

To me, the larger question isn’t whether this type of device is valuable; it is to me, definitely. I’ve wanted a paper book substitute for a long time. It’s whether Kindle is the right one. Amazon is playing Apple here. It wants to lock readers into a format and force them to buy their books and publications through them. They’re so protective of their book reading format that you can’t even read a PDF unless you first submit it to them for proprietary conversion to Kindle format. If I’m going to spend that sort of money on an e-book reader, I want it to be universally useful. There’s something a little insulting to be about being told, “We’re going to sell you this at a premium price, and then charge you for the privilege of only being able to get your content for it by purchasing it from us.”

MeV – Yes it DOES Run in Haiku

Be assured it’s more than a rumour that the MeV synth sequencer runs under Haiku.  Have a look at this nice big screen grab submitted by buzzerAl Elias!

The Squeeky Synth Revival

It is the normal course of events that, for hobby programmers, real life “gets in the way” sometimes.  For Buzzer Cyan Helkaraxe, that was the case with his Squeeky Synth program.  Squeeky Synth has gathered a little dust since it was released last year, but with growing interest in the Haiku, the operating system replacement for BeOS, Cyan has started tooling back up to work on it again.

Cyan is seeking input from musicians and programmers about the best way to proceed.  Initially he isn’t considering including multi-track hard drive recording features into his project, though he seems willing to consider all possibilities.  If you’d like to jump in with your own ideas about the things you’d like included in Squeeky Synth, you can probably do so the most easily by posting them to the Talkback Forum at Bebits.

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