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Tech, beer and rock & roll.

2004-06-30 15:56:32.166102+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

Went to the Sonoma County Perl Mongers meeting last night. I got into the meeting a little bit because Mica(sp?) was giving me a tour around the facilities at Alembic, a guitar maker.

Alembic is very cool, they build electric guitars, from the metal working for bridges and frets to the internal electronics to gorgeous wood bodies and laminated necks. They've been in business for long enough that much of their CNC capability is cobbled together using things like the Commodore 64[Wiki] for control systems, and it was totally cool to see that understanding of their product from beginning to end, including the ability to customize all the way through the process.

The first demo was a bunch of cool modules that sat on top of the Jack audio connection kit to let you lay out filters in Perl[Wiki], and running the Perl[Wiki] script generated and compiled C code. The eventual target for this was to be able to use PC hardware for easy prototyping of code that would eventually be put on DSPs in custom hardware. For debugging there were also hooks to put X based oscilliscopes and fader controls inline.

They were demonstrating on a 24 bit 10 channel card in a PC machine, latency was in the 12ms range, which the musicians seemed to think was acceptable for prototyping. Other "duh" cool hack is that I hadn't thought about using an OpenGL[Wiki] display list for sample display like that, stuff the 'scope data into a display list and the pan and zoom controls just munge the camera.

Second demo was a rambling one that covered analyzing branch prediction algorithms (and looking at machine trace data to try to suss out code structure), and wandered off into parsing Perl[Wiki] for code refactoring, with display of parse trees to try to debug them.

What impressed me most about this group is that most of the folks here were old-school hackers, everyone was comfortable talking about subjects from branch prediction to circuit board layout to Perl[Wiki] code to... well... bass riffs.

And I'm not qualified to judge sound, although I'd guess they're fairly good, but if you're looking for an electric guitar or bass in the three to twenty grand range, Alembic does beautiful work.

[ related topics: Music Perl Open Source Coyote Grits Graphics Cool Technology ]

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