Like everyone else, I expect, I had been aware that Queen Elizabeth II was in declining health and was unlikely to last much longer (though I personally had my fingers crossed that she'd last until her centenary, at which point she would have beaten Louis XIV to the title of longest-ever reigning monarch: that's the competitive historian in me, I guess!) I was nevertheless taken aback when the news broke that the decline had been faster, and more terminal, than anticipated.

I am neither ardent monarchist nor fervent republican: I just think the Head of State mostly does ceremonial duties and therefore the person performing the ribbon-cutting doesn't really matter. On the other hand, if you elect Heads of States directly, they tend to become Presidential and centers of power in their own right -which doesn't suit the Westminster system very well at all. Plus, certain Presidents (mentioning no names, but the French and US ones spring to mind) tend to behave as quasi-monarchs anyway, so if you're going that route, what's the difference?! Appointing former political leaders to the ceremonial Head of State role also doesn't sit well, I think: they have a past, and past allegiances and loyalties to mates, and one of the nice things about a hereditary Head of State is that they owe no-one any favours. It's quite a nice check-and-balance to have, in other words, where the ultimate referee of the constitutional game is beholden to no-one for their position. [...] 

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Grim Reaper Plans...

With Giocoso version 2 finally out the door, I thought I would share with you some of my plans for my digital music-related software. As you can tell from the thumbnail to this post, the news is going to be quite drastic!

In a nutshell, nearly all of my existing software will be killed off. No more CCDT, no more CAO, no more MAXV or AUAC. Instead, they will all be replaced by a single piece of software which I'm naming Semplice (because one piece of software is simpler to deal with than four!). [...] 

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Giocoso Version 2 - Out Now!

At last, Giocoso version 2 is now available for download. And it's only taken me four months to write and test it 🙂 My apologies for the delay.

The program has undergone significant revision and bug-fixing and has acquired a bunch of new features. The really big ticket items are, probably: [...] 

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When will you make an end?

I just wanted to offer a further update on the progress of Giocoso Version 2, as I'd originally hoped (and possibly promised!) that it would be out by the end of June... and I can tell you now that that's a target date that isn't going to happen!

The short version is, that it's coming along nicely and though release dates have slipped, I think we're looking only a couple more weeks before final release. Unfortunately, I keep finding something new to tweak and fiddle with: I've had to implement a development freeze to stop that sort of mission creep becoming a habit! [...] 

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Progress Progesses...

I thought it was probably time for a progress report or two!

First, Giocoso Version 2.0 is practically ready. The only thing holding it back is the business of preparing documentation for it -and the fact as a new piece gets written, I get slightly annoyed with something or other and decide I need to tweak the code a bit to deal with it. Which then means going back and making sure all previously-written documentation still correctly describes the way I originally said the program works. It's a bit like a snake eating its own tail: we'll get there eventually, once I stop fiddling with things. But meanwhile, all the fiddling is making nice, if minor, improvements to things. I am still aiming for a June release ...but what with the Platinum Jubilee, summer weather and the like, it may yet slip into July. But it's close! [...] 

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The thumbnail to this post, when clicked on, will show you a fairly significant development in the Giocoso story: it now runs on Windows!

The screenshot is of Windows 10 (fully updated, so it's running version 22H1) on my fairly ancient 2016-vintage Dell laptop, successfully playing some Benjamin Britten -complete with album art display- in Version 2 of Giocoso. [...] 

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First Impressions

I've now been using my "new" (i.e., second-hand and thus old!) Mac Mini for about a week, and it has been very much an enjoyable learning experience! There is much about it (and macOS) that I like a lot; there has also been much that has been mystifying or infuriating 🙂 I thought I would keep a sort-of 'diary' of things I've come across, as I came across them, so that any other Windows or Linux users out there even considering moving to the world of Apple will have at least a taste of what might be in store for them. I should emphasise that what follows is what a complete Mac neophyte (with about 40 years of Windows, Linux and Unix familiarity) is experiencing: I did once touch a G4 Mac back in about 2009, for around 20 minutes. I also once ran a drawing program for about an hour on the original Apple Mac back in 1985. Apart from those two brief brushes with the world of Apple, however, I had precisely zero familiarity with or understanding of macOS... so I came to this completely and utterly 'blind'. Long-term Mac users are probably, therefore, going to be tearing their hair out in despair at my clutzy approach to things, for which I apologise in advance: hold on to those hair follicles!

I should also perhaps explain that I have a very functional Linux PC at hand: my goal was, as far as possible, to match that experience on the Mac Mini, program for program. There may well be better programs available for the Mac than for either Windows or Linux -but learning what they are and how they work is a problem for another day. My present purposes simply require that what I do on my Linux PC I should be able to do equivalently on the Mac. Spoiler alert, however: there are already Mac-specific programs I prefer using to the open source options I've been using for years on Linux and Windows. For example, Apple Mail seems a perfectly decent alternative to Thunderbird; and Safari is a nice-enough browser that I've really cut back on the occasions when I'm running Firefox. There are probably other instances of the same sort of thing that will become apparent as I ramble on... [...] 

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More Pi(e)!

Giocoso has had its version number bumped again, this time to Version 1.13. The new version is not needed for anyone with an existing functioning version, but includes new software detection code allowing Giocoso to be successfully installed on the Raspberry Pi when it's running Manjaro. Giocoso was previously tested as working correctly on Raspbian (basically, Debian on Raspberry Pi and sometimes called Raspberry Pi OS), but not on the many other distros and operating systems that can be run on the Pi. I don't have the time (nor the inclination!) to test all those OS/Distro/Pi combinations, but I do run Manjaro as my main desktop (on an Intel processor), so I was naturally curious about how it would run on the Pi (OK, as it turns out!) and thus discovered by accident that Giocoso's detection of ImageMagick on that platform was faulty.

Anyway, it's fixed now. [...] 

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Spring Cleaning

A glance at my software downloads page will tell you that it wasn't just Giocoso which had lately developed a problem with accented characters on Manjaro+KDE. In fact, every piece of software I've written which uses the metaflac utility to read FLAC metadata tags suffered from the same problem. Accordingly, all needed to be fixed and all now have been fixed; each utility can therefore be updated whenever you're ready, using the utility name plus the --checkver run-time switch.

In other words, if you wanted to bump AES to its latest version, you'd type aes --checkver. If you needed to upgrade Niente, it would be niente --checkver. And so on. [...] 

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Foreign Character Woes...

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I recently re-installed Manjaro on a new small form factor Lenovo PC. All has been running well, except that in the last couple of days I noticed that Giocoso had developed a strange habit of not displaying "accented characters" properly: that is, Giocoso suddenly didn't seem able to display letters with their correct diacritic marks, such as é, ê, ß, ö, ç and so on.

For example, this is what Giocoso displayed this morning: [...] 

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