November 25, 2003

November 24, 2003

Vocaloid: Synthetic singer

Filed under: — 8:34 am

Vocaloid is a new Yamaha product, coming in January 2004, that creates a synthetic singing voice and will retail for about $200. It appears to use a phoneme-assembly technique similar to the latest speech synthesizers. The audio demos are in a weird plug-in format, but Virtual Turntable has MP3 versions available for download.

Judging from the demo, this won’t be replacing real singers anytime soon–except possibly Cher. Nonetheless, it’s impressive by speech synthesis standards, and as a musician, I can imagine it being very useful for prototyping vocals and backup singing.

Since this isn’t exciting enough to make news outside the music geek community, the New York Times had to exaggerate a bit. Their article calls it "exceedingly lifelike" and "concert quality" and ruminates about how it could be used to "reanimate" Elvis or to forge audio recordings of George Bush and Tony Blair. It makes its final departure from reality with this classic line: "In fact, in today’s world of computer-produced music, who needs humans at all?"

November 23, 2003

November 21, 2003

November 20, 2003

November 18, 2003

November 17, 2003

November 16, 2003

November 14, 2003 finally fades to black

Filed under: — 2:13 am

I just heard that, one of the original sites for independent musicians, has been sold to CNET and will be taken offline. It’s no big surprise–they were a classic example of a misguided dot-com company that hoped to make money by giving things away for free. Later they lost focus on independent music and joined the file-sharing free-for-all. Not surprisingly, this made the record labels unhappy. was already doomed when Vivendi purchased them in 2001.

Nonetheless, I miss them. Long before MP3 became synonymous with ‘illegal copy’, they were a source of interesting independent music and a godsend for musicians. You can still hear two of my recordings from a while back on, until the site goes down on December 2nd.

I suppose I’ll have to move my music to one of the remaining distribution sites, like CD Baby. Better yet, I’ll probably go with Magnatune–an online record label that is doing some interesting things and is Not Evil ™. Or maybe I’ll give up on making money and just use a Creative Commons license.

November 13, 2003

Multiple versions of Internet Explorer

Filed under: — 5:44 am

Despite Microsoft’s claims to the contrary, Joe Maddalone has discovered that it’s very easy to separate Internet Explorer from Windows and run multiple versions on one computer. Better yet, has posted pre-zipped versions of IE 3.0, 4.01, 5.01, and 5.5 to install and run.

Getting these to work requires a recent installation of IE 6.0, but it does work. Some of the browsers don’t work 100% (4.0’s address bar doesn’t work, but Open File does) but it’s good enough for testing Web sites.

Not surprisingly, this seems to contradict Microsoft’s repeated defense that IE was inseparable from Windows. In an ironic twist, the idea for the trick came from Microsoft’s IE Update that runs separately to demonstrate impending changes due to the Eolas lawsuit.

Google Bookmarklets and Deskbar

Filed under: — 4:15 am

I just noticed that Google has a Google Browser Buttons page that includes a JavaScript bookmarklet to add a Search button to your IE toolbar. You select some text and hit the button, and it plugs your text into a Google search. This is useful for those of us who don’t want to use the full Google Toolbar.

If you click this button without selecting any text, you get a corny JavaScript prompt. I made a modified version that sends you to Google’s search page instead, and also fixes a problem the original had with pages containing frames. Here’s my modified version: Search Google (to use a bookmarklet, drag it to the IE toolbar.)

In related news, the new Google Deskbar is an interface to Google that lives in the Windows taskbar. It’s probably inspired by the indispensable Dave’s Deskbar, but lacks the wide variety of other search options. On the plus side, I like the pop-up search result window that you can expand into a real browser.

November 12, 2003

November 1, 2003

(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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