Avid Scorch Drifts Further Toward Uselessness

I have been using Avid Scorch on my Apple iPad for about ten years. As a user of Avid Sibelius for creating sheet music documents, Avid Scorch was an obvious solution for viewing them on my iPad. And unlike most iOS sheet music viewers, Avid Scorch allows for changing the key of a document.

Sadly, Avid Scorch has not been updated on iOS for several years. As of this writing:

  • For Mac users on Apple Silicon M1 systems, only the latest version of Sibelius is supported by Avid (though older versions might work, through Rosetta, even if not supported)
  • Documents created with the latest version of Avid Sibelius do not load in Avid Scorch
  • Many (most? all?) MusicXML documents do not load in Avid Scorch

We are reaching the point where Avid Scorch is a nearly-dead legacy application. If you still have documents created with a sufficiently old version of Avid Sibelius, it continues to be as great as always (which, admittedly, was still a little buggy and lacking in features). But running newer versions of Sibelius, including running on the new standard M1 Apple platform, Avid Scorch is completely useless.

Linksys AC750 WiFi Extender

IMG_5019Over the recent holidays, I set up a couple of Ring devices: a doorbell, and a camera overlooking our hard-to-see-from-inside-the-house driveway. Both devices worked generally well, but it often took several tries to connect to a live view of the camera video feed. Both devices showed fairly low WiFi RSSI signal strength numbers, which was not that surprising given that they are outside above ground level, and the wireless router (hooked up to the Internet connection) is in the basement.

So I installed a Linksys AC750 WiFi Extender in the garage. Contrary to some of the Amazon reviews for the AC750, I found the setup process clear and easy to do… for a software engineer! The instructions probably could have more clearly explained some steps for general readers, but nevertheless I have it up and running.

It only boosted the RSSI numbers a little bit (about 5-10), but it was apparently enough to give much better response time on connecting to the camera live views. A solid addition to the home doorbell/camera system! Perhaps Ring should offer their own especially-easy-to-set-up WiFi extender?

USB-C Connector on USB 2 Audio Interface

IMG_8107Upgrading to a new Apple computer (2017 27-inch iMac) involved facing the fact that FireWire is truly ancient technology. I had already been linking my FireWire 400 Focusrite Saffire interface into my 2010 Mac Book Pro using a FireWire 400 -> FireWire 800 cable. Now to plug into a Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C port on the iMac, I am routing from FireWire 400 to FireWire 800 to Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3… Amazingly, it works! But it does leave me contemplating an audio interface upgrade.

Thus I was interested in a recent product announcement from Focusrite, a new Clarett audio interface that was touted as working with USB-C. This would plug directly into the iMac with no adapters, and USB-C is markedly faster than either FireWire 400 or FireWire 800, with a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 10Gbps. However, further research on the Focusrite website shows that the new Clarett USB interface is USB-C in connector only; maintaining backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 through an adapter cable, it operates at a USB 2.0 bandwidth level.

The Clarett USB interface seems to have a useful market for people still using USB 2.0 connectors but wanting to future-proof themselves with USB-C connectors. USB 2.0 is slightly faster than FireWire 400 on the Saffire interface, but if buying a new interface today, for a brand new computer, it seems like a better option to go for a unit that supports faster bandwidth.

I’ll be watching for a true USB-C audio interface, but maybe Dante over Ethernet is the way to go…

[UPDATE: I could try to cover up my ignorance by claiming that I’m really more of a software person than hardware — which is true — but apparently bandwidth isn’t the main attribute to consider here. USB 2.0 bandwidth is plenty for over a dozen audio tracks simultaneously in and out of the computer system. If you need lots of tracks, extra bandwidth can help, but otherwise, it would make no difference. What can make a difference is the speed at which the data gets into the computer; in the computer audio world, the term is latency. USB 3.0 does not improve latency speed over USB 2.0. Thunderbolt, however, does; on the computer end, a Thunderbolt connection gets closer to being an internal bus connection, and thus can deliver that same bandwidth (or more) at a higher velocity. Since the difference occurs on the computer side, not on the interface side or along the cable, a USB-C connector that goes into a Thunderbolt 3 port might offer that latency improvement as well? A whole Thunderbolt chain definitely should!]

Monopoly

IMG_9022I don’t play a lot of electronic games, but have recently been enjoying the Electronic Arts release of Monopoly on my iPhone. For some reason, Electronic Arts is pulling the game from the Apple iOS application store tomorrow, but if you already have it on your device it should continue to work until an operating system upgrade renders it unusable.

Playing a physical Monopoly game with other people tends to be a once-in-a-while event. Playing it on your phone, against software opponents, you can play it over and over and the lessons in the game can become obvious. What can we learn from Monopoly?

  • Owning income-generating assets is a very good thing. Some assets (like Boardwalk) generate more income than others (like Baltic Avenue), but even so, it is far better to have some sort of assets than none at all.
  • Likewise, owning many assets is better than owning few. The more you own, the more likely someone will make use of what you have and pay for it. But again, it is far better to have at least some assets than none.
  • Obtaining and developing assets (like buying a property and building houses on it) may be expensive, but that expense is well worth it once it starts generating income.
  • Wage income (like collecting a paycheck as you pass “Go”) is nothing compared to asset income. You may need some of your wage income to pay bills, but put as much as possible into obtaining and developing assets.
  • Others who own assets might be willing to sell them for cash. Or they might only want another asset in return. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and you can probably come up with a deal that adequately benefits both of you.
  • Taxes are really annoying if all you have is wage income. (You can pass “Go”, collect $200, and land on “Income Tax”, and pay $200!) If you have asset income, taxes feel like just part of doing business.
  • Paying rent to others is really annoying if all you have is wage income. (You can land on a property with a hotel and instantly be out $1500!) If you have asset income, it’s no big deal, because the other players are paying you rent too. (You will quickly recover the $1500 that you paid.)

In the real world, developing properties into houses and hotels is literally a great method of building assets. But there are lots of things that can be assets: books, music, training videos, computer software, and more. On the other hand, while all possible assets in Monopoly are at least somewhat desirable, in the real world it’s entirely possible to own or to create things that nobody actually wants!

Electronic Arts has a fine rendition of Monopoly for iOS here. They sell if for 99 cents, and, with the Apple family sharing plan, up to five people can play the game indefinitely for that initial 99-cent sale. I don’t know why they are pulling the game, but regardless of the reason, maybe Electronic Arts could have made the game into more of an asset for themselves! People often sell iOS applications for dirt cheap, but this one is easily worth several times what they were charging.

Privacy Not Included

Mozilla has put together a guide to some popular internet-connected home technologies, including children’s toys, with descriptions of to what extent these devices could be used spy on you or your family.

Voice-controlled computing that could benevolently observe you and track your location looked so neat on Star Trek; now that it’s actually here, I don’t think I want it in my house…