Squeak sounds on a G3 Powerbook
Last updated at 4:20 pm UTC on 14 January 2006
Here's what I've learned about using Squeak Sounds (2.2 and 2.3beta) on a G3 Powerbook.
- Sound synthesis is pretty CPU-intensive. Background applications sucking cycles away from Squeak will result in hiccups in the sound performance. The biggest bug is "Processor cycling" where the Powerbook slows down the CPU for better power consumption. Turn this off by using the EnergySaver control panel, clicking "Advanced Settings" then disabling "Allow processor cycling."
- Surprisingly, I haven't found virtual memory or RAM Doubler to be a problem.
- Getting Squeak to drive a MIDI device is surprisingly easy, but it drove me crazy my first few tries. The problem is getting any application to give up the serial port. For example, if I reboot with AppleTalk set to the modem/serial port, not even disabling AppleTalk will get it to give up that port. As long as AppleTalk has the port, Squeak's MIDI primitive will fail. You have to reboot with AppleTalk pointing at something else (the IR port works for me, or Ethernet in the office). Then you just plug it in and it works! (I'm using the Mini Macman interface from MIDIMan with good results.) (The CommCloser utility that James Foster mentioned on the list doesn't recognize the modem/printer port on G3 Powerbooks.) To get Squeak to give up the port, try
SimpleMIDIPort closeAllPorts – works great!
- Squeak's MIDI input (in 2.3beta – try MIDISynth example) works, but seems rough. The sound quality is pretty poor.
- The other option for Squeaky Sounds is Siren, Stephen Pope's music system built on top of Squeak. It requires installation of OMS (Opcode Music System) for handling MIDI. Siren seems really powerful in its representations and functionality (but a little buggy – it always tells me that I have an array error when I start up), but OMS doesn't seem to like G3 Powerbooks.
OMS has the neat feature of being able to use QuickTime Instruments, which is a pretty darn nice set of sampled instruments. That works reasonably well on the G3 Powerbook. It seems too easy to overflow the QuickTime buffer, though, and for fast segments (e.g., a drum roll), you can pretty easily confuse QuickTime. Restarting Siren works fine for correcting the problem.
But I can't get OMS to recognize my MIDI synthesizer. I've tried rebooting with all kinds of options, directly adding in interfaces and devices of all different kinds, and even (gasp!) reading the documentation. I can't seem to figure out how to do it. When I moved Siren and OMS and my MIDI interface to an old Powermac 6100, everything worked great the first time. (MIDI input seems to work well in Siren, too.)
I'm confused by a couple of these statements.
OMS should work fine on a G3 PowerBook (I use one all the time). It's really the only way to go for serious MIDI. Getting OMS to recognize your synthesizer should be easy; what kind of MIDI interface do you have?
Please send me email about the startup problems you've had with Siren. I'm preparing a new release of the "polished" Siren for 2.3.
There's a good freeware app called MIDI Mangler that frees serial ports (and can zap PRAM As well).