Monday, January 28, 2008

Website launch

It's up! It's far from perfect, but I thought it was time to get the beta out there; it's been working well, so there was no reason not to release.

That said, expect bugs and test code everywhere, and the website didn't escape from bugs, either. IE6 doesn't display it right, but Firefox, Opera, and IE7 do, so it's probably not my fault (just my problem).

Hopefully I get some actual features added, soon. The deadlines are "whenever," but the priorities are the status display, playlist, and hacked up position seek (hacked up for VBR, pretty close for ABR/CBR). Next week would be nice, but a month is more realistic. There are still a few pesky bugfixes I need to work on. And the plan is to add advertising, so that's somewhere on the list.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Visualization algorithm

If you've ever been to MySpace and played a song, you probably saw this:
I wouldn't say it competes with s3mp, but it is a related product. One thing I wanted to improve was the graphic equalizer. Not only does it not look good, it's just an animation--it doesn't match up with the music.

Flash actually can do better. For embedded sound, it can give you equalizer data points--enough to make a real version of what you see above. For streaming sounds, however, all it offers are left and right levels.

I implemented a visualization that has a certain resemblance to the s3mp logo. None of it was particularly hard, and I added a falloff so it looks smoother. The problem came with music like, oh, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, where level is pegged at the top. I tried several things in different combinations, including tacking mean and standard deviation. So far, the most acceptable results display good levels, but just don't match the music right, since it's based on rolling statistics.

For now, I'm using a cubic function to remap the levels--grading on a curve, if you will. I'm not quite satisfied with the results, so I plan on trying a quintic function. With both, the goal is to make the quiet sounds louder and the loud sounds quieter, while keeping levels in order.

Technical details aside, there's an important lesson here: for those coders out there who think you won't need math, you're wrong. I used calculus and statistics for this, and couldn't have done anything without them. Sometimes, the easy way is good enough, but other times, you really need to know what you're doing.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I've been busy moving, so sorry, not much progress, but I have two pieces of cool news:

s3mp finally has a logo (pictured on right, obviously). It isn't quite as serious a web 1.0 logos, but it lacks the immaturity that characterizes web 2.0.

And the more important news when it comes to a release: I have a developer key, so the feature can go public without a TOS violation.