Meditation Revelation

We all suffer, only some of us suffer for a purpose and others suffer for lack or denial of one. In life, we should always seek to find the pain that is most pleasing to us. We can never fully escape pain, but there is pain we can endure and pain we cannot. This thought has been brewing in me for the past few weeks and I can’t find any foothold at which to counter it or object to it. Perhaps this is just a personal truth in my life, but I am trying much harder now to allow myself the pleasure of suffering.

Pianoteq 4.5 Review

I’ve been craving a new piano VST for quite some time as my current go-to piano VST, Steinberg’s The Grand 2, just wasn’t cutting it anymore in terms of expressiveness. After finally deciding to put in the research time I set about searching the forums and reviews of the internet in pursuit of a VST that would sound great and be affordable. There are actually quite a lot of piano VSTs out on the market which made it quite hard to decide upon just one of them. However, I eventually downloaded the demo of Pianoteq 4.5 and I was instantly blown away by the sound. Upon hitting the first chord I was overcome by how rich sounding and dynamic it sounded. To be honest, I had expected it to sound very artificial due to it being a physically modeled instrument, but it was unlike any sampled piano I’ve heard in a great way.

Amazingly, this VST weighs in at a staggeringly low 29.3 MB, because it doesn’t rely on samples of any kind unlike traditional piano VSTs. Also, most sampled pianos only offer 16 sampled velocity levels whereas Pianoteq has 127 (although if MIDI were capable of more, I’m sure they could expand that as the simulation is programmed from the ground up.) The price for the PRO version is quite steep so I settled on the STAGE version (the budget offering.) Modartt offer a demo for both the STAGE and Standard versions of the software and although the bonus features in the Standard version were enticing I couldn’t warrant the additional cost with my current budget. Luckily, they do offer upgrade options if you want to upgrade to a better version down the road. ┬áNeedless to say, I ended up buying a license.┬áI’ve probably spent a good 6 hours today just lost in music, and it’s been amazing! Definitely recommended to those that are first and foremost pianists but don’t have the greatest sounding virtual piano equivalent yet!

There are some drawbacks to this VST (as with anything.) First of all, the license is only valid for 1 year of upgrades on the software. I can understand why they would do this (as the software has become much better sounding over the years that it’s been in development) but at the same time I think it would be perhaps better if they only charged for additional addons. Secondly, the price is quite a bit higher than Native Instruments New York Concert Grand and other piano offerings. Depending on the type of music you are interested in writing/playing one of those sampled offerings may be a better option. However, they don’t offer any kind of demo to try which is why I personally ruled that option out as I won’t buy any VSTs unless I can play with them hands on first (otherwise, I have no idea if I will enjoy using them and feel inspired by them.)

Here’s a sample of me playing Pianoteq 4.5 using the D4 Grand and R2 Electric Piano models:

And what the heck, I’ll give this software a rating: 9.2/10

Game Engine Revolution!

Epic Games released Unreal 4 for $19 a month and Crytek has announced $10 a month for use of the CryENGINE. Hopefully Unity will take note of this and reduce their monthly subscription cost. Even so, great things are happening in the world of game development! I predict that the next 5-10 years are going to be a new golden era for gaming. I think we’re going to see rapid changes to the design patterns we’re all used to seeing for years now. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings!

Learning Haskell: Simple Hangman Game

I’m currently taking an Introduction to Discrete Structures course at the University of Arizona that introduced me to PROLOG and after learning the basics of that language I decided I wanted to give functional programming another go. This time, I actually have got something working. Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t have syntax highlighting for Haskell specifically, but it at least highlights certain keywords. EDIT: I’ve updated the code with type-definitions and removed some redundant parenthesis thanks to a some helpful redditors.

The source code is viewable on Github here.

Mini-Review of the Blue Snowball Microphone

I recently purchased the blue snowball from Amazon and I thought I would collect my thoughts on the product here.

Build Quality: Overall the microphone is very sturdy and the stand is not wobbly on my desk at all. The stand screws firmly to the base of the microphone and can be adjusted for height in a range of about 3 inches. The USB cable included is very thick and feels high quality as well. Also, it fortunately uses a standard Type B to Type A termination USB cable (similar to those used by printers and cable modems.) I always appreciate when companies use universal standards for cables as replacing them should something happen becomes a lot cheaper and easier.

Sound Quality: Very high quality. I admit my ears are not tuned to the wide range of condenser microphones out there but I would say that the sound quality is more than adequate for pod-casting, commentating, and bedroom studio production. A pop filter may be well advised if you use it in a semi-professional setting as with most condenser microphones.

Drawbacks: There aren’t many drawbacks to this microphone (given its price at the time of writing this article is around 65 dollars.) However, the primary downside is lack of zero latency monitoring. If you are someone who needs to hear yourself play or sing in your headphones while recording then I can’t recommend this microphone to you. Due to it being USB there is a noticeable delay which makes it hard if not impossible to record while listening to yourself. However, every other microphone I’ve listened to in the sub-100 dollar range that had zero-latency monitoring sounded subjectively worse in quality than the blue snowball which is why I went with it over its competitors (like the Audio Technica ATR2500 which has ZLM.)

Overall, I’m glad I finally decided to buy a “real” microphone and my friends are too as they can actually hear me over voice chat now! I would give this microphone an 8.2/10. If ZLM was added I would revise my score to a 9.1/10.

New update for Super House of Dead Ninjas Coming Soon!

Pretty sweet news, in my opinion. I enjoyed the hell out of that game but my one complaint was that it was a bit short. Having widescreen support will definitely be welcome as well and will help to detract from the “flash game” vibe that I get when playing it.