By Jon. For Online Currents
By Jon: First published in Online Currents 2004 – 19(4) 6-87
Like computer graphics, sound and music files have developed outside the restraining influences of a single monolithic company, and as a result there are many different formats and almost as many ways to record them and play them back. In this article I will describe some of the most popular formats and software, and look at the hardware designed for playing sound, and especially music.
The earliest personal computers had a single monophonic speaker with a limited range which was mainly used for producing beeps during games or when the computer was in trouble. The first major development in sound technology came in the mid-1980s with the arrival of the SoundBlaster card, which allowed the user to attach external stereo speakers and to plug in a microphone and a ‘Line in’ plug from cassette players or other sources of sound. This made possible the use of sound in games and opened up the PC as a device for music fans and composers.
By Jon: First published in Online Currents – Vol.19 Issue 5 & 7, June & September 2004
Buying entertainment software – for home or school – is like buying books. You can pay top prices for predictable best-sellers written for a mass audience by a reliable team, or you can shop around a little, haunt the bargain bins, and pay much less for something a little different. Quirky, distinctive software – like quirky, distinctive books – can capture the imagination and teach kids – and grown-ups – something a little different. Information on mainstream entertainment programs can be found on the Web, in computer magazines, and in newspaper reviews, such as the Sydney Morning Herald’s Icon. This article is a more personal guide to some of the more intriguing byroads travelled during twenty years of buying entertainment software. If your kids are never quirky then read no further. Not all the programs mentioned here are still available from their original suppliers, but many can still be obtained through eBay or the Web. In any case, part of the fun is discovering your own treasures.
By Jon: First published in Online Currents 2005 – 20(1): 1
An open letter to software manufacturers
For common courtesy and good customer relations: if I’m installing and using your new program – call it StarAlyzer, from Liquidity Software – then: