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First Android App

Sagebrush Systems is pleased to announce its first Android app! WinChime replicates most of the features of WinChime for Windows, and is free and ad-free (with a voluntary contribution requested via in-app purchase).

WinChime for Android screenshot

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Tuner Hacks

Toilet Bud

We previously blogged about a Japanese toilet that made “courtesy flush” sounds to mask unseemly noise.

Gadget Gangster presents Toilet Buddy, a circuit project to do the same thing, complete with schematics and firmware.

Toilet Buddy from Gadget Gangster on Vimeo.

(Hat tip hackaday)

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Wind Chime Quotes

Wind chimes in your yard will serenade garden creatures – squirrels, fairies and angels.
— Author Unknown


Girl, girl, I’ll be your sunshine, you can be mine. You’ll be my wind chime. I’ve got the rhyme.
Sean Paul


Walk through the time flux hand and hand with clear mind. Chords are harmonious like the rhythm of wind chimes.


Wind Chimes are Martha Stewart’s boombox.


Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
— It’s a Wonderful Life


The true form is magnificently illuminated with gleaming fire. The teaching’s voice is total silence amid the ringing of wind chimes. The moon hangs in the old pine tree, cold in the falling night. The chilled crane in its nest in the clouds has not yet been aroused from its dreams.
— Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)


Dr. Rick Dagless: What’s this?
Linda: A dreamcatcher
Dr. Rick Dagless: What’s a dreamcatcher?
Linda: It’s like a wind chime.
Dr. Rick Dagless: Then why didn’t you say wind chime?
— “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” The Creeping Moss from the Shores of Shuggoth

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MP3 Patent Countdown

Various Sagebrush programs are able to record and play MP3, but only if you already have an ACM MP3 audio codec installed on your computer, which was common during Windows XP but less  likely in later versions of Windows. We do not bundle an MP3 encoder with our products because the technology is covered by software patents, whose validity is recognized in the country where Sagebrush is located. The licensing fees are prohibitive.

When do the patents covering MP3 encoding and decoding actually expire in the USA? That is complicated, as issues relating to software patents tend to be. Tunequest provides a handy list of patents, with the last expiring December 30, 2017. The Wikipedia article on MP3 raises the question of validity of the later patents:

The various MP3-related patents expire on dates ranging from 2007 to 2017 in the U.S.[52] The initial near-complete MPEG-1 standard (parts 1, 2 and 3) was publicly available on December 6, 1991 as ISO CD 11172.[53][54] In the United States, patents cannot claim inventions that were already publicly disclosed more than a year prior to the filing date, but for patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, submarine patents made it possible to extend the effective lifetime of a patent through application extensions. Patents filed for anything disclosed in ISO CD 11172 a year or more after its publication are questionable; if only the known MP3 patents filed by December 1992 are considered, then MP3 decoding may be patent free in the US by September 2015 when U.S. Patent 5,812,672 expires which had a PCT filing in Oct 1992.[55][56][57]

Just for the sake of caution, let us take the more conservative date of December 30, 2017.

[ujicountdown id=”mp3patent” expire=”2017/12/30 23:59″]

(We are not lawyers, and nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice.)

We hope and expect to be supporting RecAll and RecAll-PRO well into the next decade, so it is quite possible to wait out this particular portfolio of patents.

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Add New Instrument Voices to MouSing

Recently we described how to add new instrument voices to WinChime, beyond those pre-defined in the drop-down list.

TL;DNR version: Enter the MIDI instrument number (minus 1) in the edit box portion of the drop-down list.

You can do the same trick in MouSing, on the MIDI tab main window.

We actually forgot this trick,  but the capability was recently rediscovered by a tester. (The help file will be updated in the next program update to include a MIDI instrument table as a reference.)

MouSing MIDI depends on pitch bending, which varies in quality of implementation by audio device. In particular, MouSing-MIDI works best with large pitch bend ranges, beyond the plus-or-minus two semitones in the General MIDI specification. With large pitch ranges, MouSing doesn’t need to start a different note because that produces a note attack sound– not very theremin-like. If you hear a break in the sound when using MouSing-MIDI, that’s what is happening: you hit a note boundary and have started another note with its associated attack.

Useful theremin-like MIDI instrument voices have indefinitely long sustain and little or no attack. We pre-defined six instruments in the drop-down list: Ocarina, Synth(sawtooth),. Synth(square), Flute, Whistle, and Choir Aahs. We left out a few that might be useful, so refer to the table in this article and experiment.

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RecAll-PRO and RecAll on MacIntosh OS X

Previously we described how to run RecAll-PRO, RecAll, and other Sagebrush programs on Ubuntu Linux, using the free open-source Wine software library. Here we show how to do the same thing with MacIntosh running OS X on an Intel CPU.

The easiest way to install Wine on OS X is with WineBottler. Download and install the dmg file. Open the file and you should see this folder:

Drag and drop Wine and WineBottler to Applications Folder shortcut.

Go into the Applications folder and double-click Wine. You should see a wine glass icon in the upper right tray.

Double-click WineBottler in the Applications Folder. Select “Create Custom Prefixes”.

Download the most recent RecAll-PRO .EXE file and click the “select File…” button in the WineBottler window to select this file. (Under Winetricks an “allcodecs” package exists, but it doesn’t seem to refer to ACM codecs used by RecAll, so don’t click any packages.) Click the Install button.

In the pop-up dialog, select the Applications folder and change name to RecAll-PRO.

Run the RecAll-PRO installer and try out the program.

No Wave or MP3 compression codecs are available, but uncompressed Wave and all Vorbis/Speex compression works. (Perhaps some Wine/Mac guru can figure out how to make MP3 work?)  The next time you want to start the program, look in the Applications folder.


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