Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Talking about round-robin, I am reminded of the elevators at the block of flats where I live.
I've been frustrated at the elevators before. Sometimes when I call for the elevator, I can tell that 2 of the lifts are in transit (going somewhere, with or without passangers).
Sometimes only 1 out of 3 is in transit.
When I call the lifts, I expect one of the lifts that are parked to be mobilised. Instead, the logic that drives the lifts assignment lets that lift go in the opposite direction, then come to a rest, (either to drop off some passenger or park itself), then wakes itself again, to come to my level. There are many other cases of combination of the lifts doing different things mid-way, and reacted in a very inefficient manner, resulting in my having to wait a huge amount of time before a lift picks me up. Now I realise this has totally got to do with the concept of round-robin (or the lack of) assignment.
This is the same for the elevators at work. There are at least 4 elevators serving the levels of my current workplace. Most of the time I don't need to wait an awful long time to get an elevator, but sometimes they are really inefficient.
Elevators may be using another set of rules to guide the scheduling algorithm to decide upon which lifts to activate for all I know. Maybe I should go and read up a bit of elevator scheduling just to clear my doubts. :)
In the course of reading the manuals of EastWest virtual instruments plug-ins, I keep coming across the term "round-robin".
What Round-Robin Means
At first it seemed to be a recording technique, or some kind of microphone set-up. I searched google.com for "round-robin mic techniques", and found nothing. Closest results relevant to audio processing was a a "round-robin" setting in protools configuration that allows Protools to be configured to read/write audio data from an array of hard-disks to ensure stability of glitch-less recording.
After I watched the videos from Youtube (from the previous blog entry), they used the term to describe the way samples are triggered.
Here's what I found on Answers.com:
and from wikipedia.org:
The original meaning is to describe the signing of a petition in a way that signatures are passed around in a circle to make it impossible to know was which signature belongs to whom.
In sports terms, it is the matching of every contestant against every other contestant.
In programming terms, it is the simplest scheduling algorithm that for every time a resource is needed for a task, the round-robin algorithm selects which supplier to pull a certain resource from, out of a list of resource suppliers. This ensures that every resource provider is used the same number of times over a given period. This means that if there are 4 resource providers, each will be taxed equally over a period of time.
As I am re-phrasing this definition, I am imagining 4 missile barrels triggered by software, controlling which barrel to fire each time. If there is a need to continuously fire off 50 missiles, we could use the round-robin method to assign which barrel to fire each missile off.
An extreme case of imbalanced load assignment would be to fire all 50 rounds from tube 1. That would leave the other 3 tubes totally idle. Therefore an example of round-robin style assignment would be to fire off tubes in the sequence of tube numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc... There could be a more complex assignment based on random values, like 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 3, etc... It could even be based on rules. If each tube takes a slightly different time to reload, our algorithm would have to query which tube is available and loaded, then assign that tube to be the next to fire.
The aim is to balance the load on each of the resource provider. Therefore at the end of a fixed duration, the number of times each resource (or tube) is being used, would be about the same. (This duration could be at the end of the hour, or at the end of 50 rounds of firing, or at the end of a day, etc).
I think the sports and programming terminology for round-robin is quite similar. It ensures every request (or sportsman) is matched with every other resource (or opponents, in sports) in the same number of times of events that calls for the resource (or matches, in sports).
So how does that apply to the virtual instrument plugin situation?
Round Robin in EastWest's "Play" Engine
It seems that EastWest is employing this round robin kind of task-versus-resource assignment to allocate which samples to trigger when you issue a MIDI note event (ie, when you hit a key on the MIDI controller).
This is one of the EastWest videos showing the Fab Four virtual instruments library and its instruments in great detail. This is part 2 of 3.
Watch the video at 2mins 27secs, when round-robin is mentioned. It is used to trigger the samples from alternate takes of the same note to play, when you repeatedly play on the same note on the virtual instrument.
At 1min 09secs, the hi-hats from the drumkit when played, will automatically trigger off left- and right-handed sampled hi-hat hits to play when you play that midi note repeatedly.
That is one of the many supported features of the EastWest play engine. Its really simple and intuitive, but yet it has all the features you'll ever need from a virtual instrument.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Before the opening of the One North Station, I used to take the North East Line from Farrer Park Station to Outram Park Station. From there I change to the East-West Line and take the train to Buona Vista Station, where I'll have to exit, cross the road and then take a bus to Fusionopolis. The bus comes once every 12-15 minutes. This was a huge inconvenience for people working here.
Amazingly, the operation of One North MRT station has opened up 3 routes by which I can now go to work by.
Therefore, Route 1 which has the least number of stations would also probably have the shortest distance between stations overall. I will have to measure the distances with Google Maps when I have more time.
As I am writing this, I am on the way to work. Without realising it I've just found myself on Route 3 with the most number of stops, approaching Woodleigh Station. The other shorter routes involve going in the opposite direction down to Outram Park and Harbourfront Stations, so its too late to go back now. Oh well... ;)
Sunday, November 27, 2011
But I am a happy man. Saved me the trouble of having it replaced! Yippee!
RROD stands for the Red Ring of Death. It is 4 LEDs arranged in a ring. The console will use different combination of flashing LEDs to indicated the nature of the different problems.
I did a bit of reading up and it says 4 lights indicate an AV connection problem. Either the AV port is faulty or the graphics card.
I'll go give that a try and see if it works. At least there's hope. hahah.
This is the second time I'm getting this!
I got this error after applying an update. Upon restarting, the Red Ring reared it's head.
This set is actually a replacement for my first set with the Red Ring of Death. First replacement was within 3 yrs pf purchase so it was free.
I highly suspect it's already past the warranty for RROD errors.
That's what you get for being away from home and not touching your console for 6 months!
I've got too many xbox 360 games to switch to a PS3 now.
Oh well I'll contact Microsoft and see how much I've got to pay to get a replacement.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
|This image is from http://theironnews.com/the-romantic-eiffel-tower, who reserves all rights to this photo.|
Friday, November 18, 2011
I left London to end my 5 months working visa in dneg. I am here on holiday with my wife, and we'll be here for a week. After that I will return to London to catch a flight back to Singapore on the same day.
This is the first time I am booking any hotel stay for 7 days at a stretch - my longest hotel stay in a country so far. I booked the hotel as a package with the train, through the Eurostar website.
When I reached Paris, walking out of the train station, the first group of people I encountered was a group of girls loosely scattered across the arrival area of the station, collecting donations for poor and homeless children. They were teenagers from about 12 to 17 years old. Christina and myself were quite lost and we had our hands full, so we had to turn them down. We ran into 3 of the girls, all asking for the same thing. They all ask if we spoke English.
The first girl showed me a list of people names on a piece of printed donation list, and tried to explain to me about the objective of the fund-raising. I got past by apologising and saying we were in a rush. Second girl came as we went down the escalator to the basement. There was a group of them at the end of that escalator.
This girl asked if I spoke English, then showed me her donation list and asked me to sign without saying anything about money. I felt she was persistent and misleading me into thinking it's simply a petition by signing my name. However, when I took a closer glance at her paper I saw the column stating the amount donated. I said sorry with a declining smile and waved my hand "no". She physically tried to stop my by using her hand to push against mine in the middle of my waving action to stop my advancing forward. It was more of a gesture than a really obstructive force to keep me from going, but I felt it was far too aggressive for fund-raising.
The third girl was with the second girl. She approached us only after about 6 steps away from the other girl. She said "Hello" to me. I waved my hand with an apologetic smile. She looked indignant, like she was offended, like "I only wanted to say Hello". Then she repeated her "Hello", like 2 times, each time louder and more pissed off than before. I kept saying sorry and smiling but waving "no" to her. On the third time I said a firm "hello" in a matching loudness with her, with a smile while looking directly at her. I was trying to show that I was not ignoring her, but I was also not going to make a donation just because she was trying to intimidate me. She jabbed me in the upper arm with the non-writing tip of her pen and said "hello" again, with the loud and offensive tone. That was just when I got far enough for her not to be able to reach me any more. Her jab was not injuring but the force was firm, and I could feel it for about 8 seconds after.
I was quite surprised by the whole incident. Why were children who were so aggressive allowed to raise funds at Gare Du Nord, a major railway station in Paris? Were they taught to be so aggressive in their manner of approach? It would seriously affect tourists' impression of Paris and its people right? I was seriously doubting if there was a non-profit organisation behind the girls asking for donations. I also doubt they would just let me go if I told them I've already made a donation to another one of their peers earlier on.
After we exited the station, a man tried to approach Christina asking if she spoke English. She said "no". He asked "Can I hug you?", she said "no" again then she ignored him. He continued to ask if he could help her. She continued to ignore him and he left after a while.
We finally found the official taxi stand, with a long queue. When we joined the queue we were greeted by an old lady asking for English Pounds to spare. I was wondering why she was specifically asking for pounds? If she was really in need, why is she selective about what people give her?
This was a totally different experience from my last 2 trips. We were left alone most of the time, and I do not recall any encounters with the locals that even approaches the intensity in persistence like what I had just encountered. It is just 3 years since, and I felt it is really different from how it used to be.
I know the state of the economy in Europe is quite bad, and I am wondering if all this is the result that is affecting society.
The taxi ride and booking in to the hotel was pretty un-eventful. The hotel is L'Empire, which was just behind the Louvre and just a street away from the Metro station called Louvre Rivoli. The hotel room was really nicer than I expected. It was clean, nicely furnished and had very friendly and professional staff.
|That's looking in from the front entrance|
|Our room. All the rooms are named after Napolean's generals.|
The whole Eurostar package included 2 return train tickets from London to Paris and a hotel for 7 days. All in all it cost me £1,360.
Monday, November 14, 2011
|This image is from the forum where there was a button to click to vote ;)|
|This image is from the forum where there was a button to click to vote ;)|
Also, with regards to designing for the print-medium in mind, some people also commented that photo-realistic renders, even they look attractive, would not be so suitable for mugs and t-shirts, if the designers had actually had experience doing designs for t-shirts.
The moderator commented that the designs could be used in posters for example, and they might work with us to request for modification to make the designs more suited to their purposes.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
So I've placed the order. With the date of my departure being barely more than a week away, I hope Amazon makes a timely delivery.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
So all the way to the weekend I continued to model and develop the model. I had some problem trying to model the mesh. I had 1 that is bump mapped, and I had 1 with circular holes and another with hexigonal holes cut into planes.
Some technical details pertaining to CG and 3D which described my process of modelling and rendering the image are included in the similarly named post on my VFX blog here: http://patrickvfx.blogspot.com/2011/10/submitted-entries-for-fl-studio.html.
That was 30 Oct morning, London time. Contest ends 30 Oct. I was not very sure which time zone, so I finished it by Sunday 9am, my local London time.
After submitting it, I decided to run the rendered image through an Android app by Autodesk called Pixlr-o-matic. Its available from the Apple App Store too. Here are the amazing results and variations.
Many of them are useable and totally changes the feel of the image right? I was quite amazed at what mobile apps can do these days. So after I got these variations out, I quickly logged on and submitted a few more just to show the potential of the render.
I got a reply that said "damn kids throwing their 3D around these days". I think it was meant as a joke :). Another person replied "I want one of those, would you actually make them and how much can I buy them for?". Thats a great compliment to my work!
The design contest was primarily a DESIGN contest. Probably the most important factor for judges to consider would be the element of design. So I am prepared that the people evaluating the entries would throw my image out the door (including the fruity coin bank and candy jar).
My very lousy connection at home prevented me from replying them.
After my last 2 entries (coint bank and candy jar) that had links to a video clips of animated turn table, 3D entries in the forum started to include turntable video links. Copycats! Hah! ;)
There are not activities in the forum, so we'll just wait for the results and see.
I had an idea of smoke coming out from the logo and cable, but I did not have time to do it. I think I'll continue to work on it and maybe post a post-contest entry in the forum, just to show how I meant it to be. I've just got to be disciplined enough to carry it through.