31 October, 2005

Time to consider things, Big Ben included.

Timezones get confusing, sometimes. You say you're in New Zealand, and nobody knows where the hell that is - although that's sort of changing now. At least now they know we've got sheep. And pretty good scenery - though that was always a given. I was on IRC last night (as per usual) and was talking about Casio watches when I found out that the newer models (for lots of money, of course) now have "Atomic" timekeeping - the general concept is that these watches take their time off an atomic standard, and hence, never need setting, except to set the timezone that you're in. What method do they use to receive the signal? Is there a little radio set up to receive WWV or WWVH? And what if you're out of range of either of those? Does your little watch gradually drift further out of time with the rest of the world? Tick tock, tick tock. I played around with a perl script called "grandfatherclock" last week, along with adding decent "bong" and quarters sound files. Took a little work in audacity, and I'm still not sure I've got two of the files "right". But at least now it sounds good at the half hour chime, and the last "bong" of the hour is nice and drawn out, like I'd expect. A little trick I thought of was to have two "bong" files - one for the first, second, etc,, and the other bong file would be what you get on the last bong of the hour with proper delay at the end. Then, when we play the hours, play the first sound for every bong but the last one, then play the second sound with the full audio decay as the last one. It only took a little work with an editor, and a couple of iterations of "edit, test" to get it right. The trick of course was to get decent audio files to begin with, and thankfully, someone had put up an MP3 of Big Ben striking 3 (along with all the quarters, of course). That gave me enough material to work with, once I converted it back into split-up wav files. In the Windows world, things are a little different. For starters, most people putting up their program shout out "Authentic sound of Big Ben!" while hiding the fact that their program could literally be doing ANYthing while it's chiming. I'm intending to port the program to Windows, using the ActivePerl environment. The only thing that I'll be missing is a cute toolbar icon and tray applet to go with it. Any suggestions, anyone?

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