Giocoso Version 3.03 Released

Another tiny bug-fix in Giocoso has been released, bumping the program version to 3.03.

This time, it's a very minor correction to the way the program pauses and resumes music playback: if no music was being played when the pause request is made, then the program would output nasty-looking (but ultimately harmless) error messages from the operating system. Now, the pause/resume function tests that music is actually being played before trying to do something: net result, error messages are no longer produced and the program display remains 'pretty'! [...] 

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Mission Accomplished!

My turn-of-the-year project to move this website off a vintage 2012 server running Ubuntu onto a slightly-less-vintage 2019 server running TrueNAS Core (an 'appliance' built on top of FreeBSD) is now complete. What's more, there's a backup of it running on a TrueNAS Scale server (another 'appliance' built on top of Debian), on a server I was gifted when the company I was working for in Australia in 2012 sold itself off to a rival and all the staff were made redundant. It's my oldest-ever server, I think: vintage 2010 or thereabouts, but I've specc'd it up with 2 12-thread Xeon CPUs (so, 24 threads in all) running at 2.8GHz, and with 192GB of RAM. So definitely old, but not exactly shabby -and more than capable of running the 30 or so virtual machines I need to test my software against most varieties of Linux and Windows, in addition to acting as my music, video and website backup server.

Apart from a couple of outages today as the final moves of the (very noisy!) servers into their designated loft space took place, I don't think anyone would have noticed much by way of change or disaster! In fact, 95% of the move was finished on January 1st, well before my own announced deadline. The other 5% has been getting the backup server configured properly, which took longer than I expected because I chose to upgrade the CPUs and the RAM... and then managed to buy two sticks of faulty RAM and had to wait for replacements to be shipped from Germany. [...] 

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Giocoso Version 3.02 Released

A relatively small, but nevertheless significant, enhancement to Giocoso has just been released, bringing the program up to Version 3.02.

To understand the new update, you first have to understand the specifics of how Giocoso makes a random selection of a recording to play. It's a two-stage affair: first, a composer is selected at random; second, a recording by that composer is selected. This ensures that an obscure composer has as much chance of being played as the likes of Bach, Beethoven or Brahms. [...] 

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End-of-Year Report

As 2023 draws to its close, I thought I'd trawl through my Giocoso music player's database and work out what I've spent the past twelve months doing, as far as listening to classical music goes.

The headline news is that I've played 3,007 unique recordings this year which, cumulatively, lasted for about 69 days (68.93 if you want to be accurate about it!). [...] 

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Giocoso Version 3.01 Released

I uncovered a silly bug in Giocoso Version 3 on Boxing Day: I had switched off random-play mode and instead instructed the program to play a playlist constructed from anything containing the word 'Christmas' in its ALBUM tag. The music itself all played fine, and everyone was pleased with the festive mood thus created 🙂 Unfortunately, I noticed that by the time the eighth piece was being played, Giocoso was reporting its duration to be over 10 hours! Going back over the play history for that day (now fixed), I saw that Percy Grainger's Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol was recorded as having played for over 11 hours -when it's actually a piece that lasts about 5 minutes, tops!

What I immediately spotted was that the recorded durations for each piece was in fact the cumulative duration for all pieces played up to that point, from the playlist. If the playlist had said to play pieces that were (say) 5, 20, 13, 12 and 15 minutes long, the first piece would have been recorded as lasting for 5 minutes; the next as lasting for 25 minutes; the third as being 38 minutes in length; the fourth as being 50 minutes long; and the last would be recorded as having played for 1 hour 5 minutes. And so on. Throw a couple of Christmas Oratorios into the mix and a piece that should have been recorded as lasting 15 minutes would instead have been recorded as lasting for 10+ hours! [...] 

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Happy Benjamin Britten Giocoso 3 Release Day

Today is November 22nd 2023. It happens to be Benjamin Britten's 110th birthday; the feast day of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music and musicians... and, at last, the release day of Giocoso Version 3, this website's homebrew classical music listening software. It all seems so spookily appropriate!

The user manual for it is now therefore available in the usual place. I encourage you to read all of it, of course: but if not that, then at least Sections 2, 3 and 4. [...] 

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Documentation pending...

I'm now in Giocoso 3 documentation mode: writing up what functionality exists; what functionality doesn't exist; and how best to use the software to do its principal job of playing classical music in a quasi-intelligent way.

There are (pause to count...) 28 distros to install onto, perform functional tests and make notes on quirks, weirdnesses and showstoppers. Each distro tends to ship with three or four desktop environments (KDE, Gnome, Budgie, Pantheon, XFCE and the like), so the number of permutations at this stage is a bit bewildering. Not to say, time consuming. [...] 

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Buy me a coffee, please?!

The Other Half has long berated me for not selling my software, or otherwise attempting to monetise this site. I have long resisted doing so -but as buying new music or new computers to test and develop things on is getting expensive, I've finally relented, in a modest way: I've just opened an account at 'buy me a coffee', a trustworthy site that takes donations from grateful members of the public and sees them on their way to creators. I've labelled my account as 'buy me a music score', as that's what I'll probably end up doing with any amounts of cash I get from it, though a newer desktop PC is on the wishlist, too!

There's zero obligation and I'm not going to promote it heavily, but if you value anything I've produced here and can spare a fiver or so, I'd be grateful (and it might just keep the Other Half quiet, too!). Check it out at: [...] 

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I've reached the persnickety bug-hunting phase of Giocoso Version 3 development! This is good, because it means a release of Version 3 is not too far away. It's bad, though, because as you uncover new, obviously stupid bugs, you spend your days thinking, 'How could I be so stupid!'

A case in point was just triggered by what I thought was going to be a trivial little addition to this website: adding a 'play count' column to my music play history listing. Adding the column itself and getting it populated from my Giocoso database was indeed quite simple. What wasn't expected was this: [...] 

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An IT Tour

A recent correspondent put me in mind of the fact that, having at last settled into my new home, it was perhaps time to do a sort-of guided tour through it as far as explaining what, technologically speaking, makes my music play. I notice, for example, that just a few weeks ago I took a photo of my music 'cabinet' in which an Apple Mac Mini (vintage 2012) took pride of place as the music-producing PC. Well, that's not true these days (as regular readers will probably know, I suffer from a bad case of operating system re-installationitis, with consequent side-effects of PC moving-aroundism):

As you can see, I don't exactly do a lot of dusting! As you can also see, the Mac Mini has been replaced by my Raspberry Pi 4: though it can have a fan fitted to keep it cool, mine is housed within an aluminium case that acts as a very good passive heatsink. Temperatures are therefore seldom above 50°C, and I've accordingly not bothered to fit the fan: the Pi is completely silent in operation in consequence ...and that's a key requirement of any IT equipment that sits in my music listening room (for hopefully obvious reasons!) [...] 

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