DeepYouTube

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In the end of August I introduced a new SID handler in DeepSID. But not just another emulator – this one allows you to play YouTube videos. This was something I added after I recently discovered that YouTube actually has an IFrame API that allows you to control YouTube videos using my own controls.

I made sure to make a full package out of it in the first release. Each SID row has support for up to five tabs, each with their own YouTube video, and a context menu option makes it possible to edit these tabs and even set one as the default. Even the individual subtunes of a SID row can have their own set of tabs.

Later I also added support for the ?t=123 time switch.

One of the final touches I added before releasing it was to make sure all SID rows were disabled until one or more YouTube videos were present. This instantly spawned a dark ocean of silent SID rows everywhere. Time to start adding YouTube videos. I eagerly flexed my fingers – and then it dawned upon me.

There are tens of thousands of SID rows, and I have to add this manually. 🙄

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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A question I’ve been asked from time to time about my web site DeepSID is how the SID composers in the MUSICIANS folders have been divided according to the quality of their songs.

All of the composer folders in each letter folder inside MUSICIANS have received a rating from 1-5 stars. I then decided that a certain amount of stars, say 3, determines that the composer is at least okay, maybe even good. If the rating is 4 or more, it’s a great composer.

This was done because I needed this division for at least three features of DeepSID:

  • The list of recommendations, available from a link in the top line.
  • The “All”, “Decent” and “Good” sort options for every MUSICIANS letter folder.
  • Jumping to a random composer of a decent quality from the front page.

I knew that judging the composers to fit these three features would be a sensitive area. Even a minefield. I thought for a while about how I wanted to proceed doing this. I really wanted to involve a lot of people, but there were complications. Let’s go through each of these.

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

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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.

From JCH’s Special Collection

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I had my entire collection of 2500+ C64 floppy disks converted to D64 files a few years back, but I also had a few special boxes that wasn’t in on that deal. It was mostly my own work disks plus a few unique ones I had set aside for later studying. Back in April, a friend converted all these to D64 files as well.

Lately, I’ve been snooping around in these 670+ D64 files, and oh yes – there were gems to be found.

I’m going to present my findings in this blog post. Some have been uploaded to CDSb already, some are entirely new. Of course it’s mostly SID tunes, but there are a few PRG files to run as well.

DeepSID

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I have made my own online SID player.

This was actually something I had originally discarded since I wasn’t satisfied with the state of the JavaScript SID emulators I had found online. The one for the SID Visualizer (which uses jsSID by jhohertz) couldn’t play digi tunes and neither could the one by Hermit. Playing digi tunes was a requirement for me.

But then I checked out Jürgen Wothke’s WebSID and it was at a level I found satisfying. It can play all sorts of tunes with weird timings, including digi tunes. Only BASIC tunes are not supported (sod those) as well as 2SID/3SID tunes (a shame but I can live with that for now).

Later, I also added Hermit’s jsSID emulator, and it can play those 2SID/3SID tunes. And again later, I added support for Stone Oakvalley’s Authentic SID Collection with real C64 recordings.

Another reason I wanted to make my own SID player was that I didn’t really like most of the existing ones, offline and online. Many are small and doesn’t offer a lot of info, or it’s hidden away in windows and tabs. I wanted to create a player that was KISS while also offering all the useful info at a glance.

CLICK HERE TO FIND YOURSELF IN DEEPSID