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Thoughts and observations about language

People are Deaf

While I didn't know that it was a Yamaha product until today, I've known about Vocaloid for a long time. It wasn't anything made with it that first brought it to my attention, though, it was suddenly seeing the name "Miku" everywhere coming out of Japan. I had thought it was a fairly safe name when I started Skewed back in 2004. It wasn't a real Japanese name, and the sound of it had a general male alignment. But now, thanks to Miku Hatsune, I can't ever use that name again for a male character.

But that's not why we are here today, no. We're going to talk more about the software itself. I've spoken a fair amount in the past about voice recognition, and hand in hand with that is always voice synthesis. Now, voice synthesis itself is fairly diffucult, due to the complexity of vocal speech, but doubly hard from that is synthesis of the voice with tone put to it, synthesis of singing. That is, of course, what the Vocaloid software is about.

Now for a long time I've had my own ideas about methods of creating speech synthesis software, and its one of the primary reasons I started studying linguistics so I could understand some more of what goes into it, but I had been holding off on starting work on the software because of computer processing power. So when I first heard about the Vocaloid I was rather interested to hear what had been come up with so far. However, the original samples I'd heard all sounded so horribly mechanized I had no desire to hear any more and no hope for it for another good while.

Images of a PSP game based on Vocaloid caught my eye on an imageboard a few days ago, or more specifically, a Miku Hatsune PSP game by the name of "Project Diva". I'd heard talk about it for some time but I thought it was all in jest, because I didn't think that a product based on chiefly fanmade work would really come into existance on a console like that. Much to my surprise I was wrong, and we can thank SEGA for taking the risk. As I was reading about this game, though, I still had to wonder what they would do as far as the songs for it, and, expecting that they would want to use some good stuff for a commercial product, I started to listen to some of the track list.

Much to my delight, it actually can be used for some decent sounding singing. Just to share a couple of my favorites of what I heard, I'll give you the links for "Last Night, Good Night" and the unexpecedly swing "Miracle Painting". Granted they're a lot smoother than some of the things I've heard staged in the Vocaloid2 software, bu it still has a distinct synthesized sound to it. Plus, in my own personal taste, the general high squeaky voice she has I don't really like much anyway. But it did convince me that the software was fairly capable.

So after reading some, I decided to look into the software some more, which is where I finally discovered it was by Yamaha. Yamaha does good synthesis, and the XG softsynth of the 90s was one of my favorite MIDI synthesizers, second only to the Brookstree/Conexant WaveStream software which I put back together my Pentium to be able to use again. And as I read, apparently the regular Vocaloids ended up being created due to a general artist reluctance to contribute their voices to create Vocaloid data. There was a new libray made recently that the Japanese singer Gackt contributed to, which also used a new build of the Vocaloid software with a new feature, that actually sounds pretty decent, and also sounds really close to how Gackt sounds normally.

So based on that, and my clear recognition of Gackt, I began wondering if maybe the person that the Miku is based off of just has that normally high squeaky voice. Her name is Saki Fujita, a fairly recent voice actress which I've only actually seen one of the shows she was in. But I couldn't actually think of the voice from that character, so I looked up a random song by her, and found "Crystal Quartz". I can hear where Miku comes out of that, but there's so much difference between the actual voice and the synthesized Miku Hatsune. There's a great deal of voiced changes in the singing that it simply doesn't get replicated, changes in the throat as well as the mouth that change the sound of vowels and consonants subtly while still keeping the same vowels and consonants. There's still things that can be improved in Vocaloid.

But what I really found interesting was the conversation I had after that. I know someone who had said he was going to try playing with the Vocaloid software before, and while he may or may not have actually done it I knew he had known about it, and I have also had some other audiophile-categoried conversations with him in the past. So while talking to him about it, an increasinlgly confusion brought to my attention a surprising fact: he couldn't tell the difference between Saki and Miku's singing. I can tell the difference very clearly, but to him they sounded the same. And reading the comments on the Crystal Quartz video, a lot of people seemed to prefer the way the voice sounds in the synthesized singing of Miku over the genuine article.

So I've come to a conclusion, that suddenly makes everything regarding Vocalod clear. People are deaf.



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Date: 29 Jun 2009 - 18:31
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The Bard sRc

To bring everything to head, we'll recap the story so far. Ever since I started on the internet, all the way back in '97, I was known by the alias "The Anaconda". But, recently, in an act that's practically suicide in the realm of the internet, I no longer use that name. I have completely changed my identity, in the process of about a year and a half's worth of time, with a new identity, that of "sRc". I've talked about reasons why, but there's one thing I still haven't covered. The bard.

At this point I've now posted four poems under the "Something Different" header. The actual title of this series is "Refractions of a Shattered Soul", and it began sometime in 2004 with a poem my character quoted in the backstory I wrote for Ties to Infinity. Since I haven't gotten to uploading that onto here yet I'll not talk about it further right now, but it was based on a dream I had at the time. The second entry, the Crossroads of the Four Winds, I wrote in a notebook sometime before May of 2006. That's where I first really created the bard persona.

The bard is a profession from the Gaelic and British areas in the Middle ages. Most people nowadays know it by the D&D job named after it (or the Final Fantasy job based from that for those video game players that didn't play D&D). But in essence the bard's role is as a singer, a poet, a narrator and storyteller.  A task, while certainly known by different tiles in the modern day, essential to the world today. The bards are our musicians. The bards are our book writers. The bards author our films, and the bards give us our video games. And thus, I am a bard.

The idea of "The Bard sRc" came, actually, from my development of the story of Phobia. I was playing with the idea of a double of myself in that world sitting in on the storyline as a side character, taking down notes of what was happening to develop into a video game later. I didn't really call him the Bard until I paired him with another character, though, as a opposing personality to another sideline character, with that character referring to him not by name, and not by alias, but simply "The Bard" whenever someone asked her about him.

But putting aside where I first really used the term, the concept of "The Bard sRc" encompasses so much more. Refractions of a Shattered Soul, a opposing story I had started on the AnacondaSoftware site called "Reflections of a Tortured Soul", the many fragments of stories I've started but never finished, all the way back to my high school and the creation of the concept of James Millen. I am an author, I am a musician. I am the storyteller, and my job is to do just that. And it is my wish, and my task, that you not know me directly, but instead know me and remember me for my work. My name is not important, what's important is what you gain from my stories. I am the Author, I am the Bard.

Gather 'round, let me tell you a story.



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Date: 27 Jun 2009 - 02:21
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RTFM?

So I was putting back together an old Pentium 1 computer, which I have mentioned before as giving me nothing but problems when it was my main computer, but I need to run some old sound hardware I plan on using. As I turned it on to make sure it hadn't been damaged and become inoperational in the years of disuse, I was presented with a beep code from the BIOS. I had to go look it up, and in the process stumbled upon the original manual for the machine on the HP website.

As I read through it, I found certain supported operating configurations, which, as it turned out, I was not running it in. Specifically, the RAM requirements, I was running in an unsupported configuration. As it was RAM - which the original had gone misssing - that was the whole cause for the beep code, I needed to track down some different RAM for the machine (thanks Duaine!). I put in RAM in a supported configuration, then began thinking I may have to make an entry on how the years I was running this machine and complaining about it were purely my fault, since it was trying to run with RAM it could not support.

However, a few minutes trying to run Rise of the Triad to test later, all that worry was gone as the problem resurfaced to assure me there was an actual issue with the machine.



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Date: 24 Jun 2009 - 01:14
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Continually Different

I stand here, watching the man
He cannot see me,
But this is the only place we exist together
He is telling of his past, of the place he works
His desk was a store,
That room was a restaurant
In the past, this place was different
Now it was decrepit, barely alive,
As he tells of a time long past,
Surprise and bewilderment in his eyes,
I wonder what I also had forgotten.
Stories I've lost,
Songs I can no longer sing.
Granted, I'm on my own now,
Reduced from my troupe of three,
But I wonder,
As I learn new tales,
As I sing the new songs,
Am I, too, losing the past?



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Date: 21 Jun 2009 - 01:03
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Crash Review

I started going through the Pimsleur course today for Japanese. Since I didn't know what they would cover in the course I decided to just start from the beginning, making most of it a review early on. The first lesson just went over general inquiry about spoken languages. The second one went into greetings and small talk, and, oddly enough, that's where I first hit new vocabulary. 

Somehow, I had missed the term 'weather' in my 3 years of taking it in high school and the other random stuff I've picked up since. Of all the things a simple world like that I had never learned. Also on the second one they tried going into the explanation of the sentence particle 'ne', which as I've mentioned before doesn't have a good general equlivalent in American English, which left the narrator the task - much to my amusement - of trying to explain how to use it during the lesson.



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Date: 18 Jun 2009 - 14:27
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Cloaked

As of right now most of AnacondaSoftware is now closed, leaving just the forum. I had a security issue come up with my hosting account, and so in the process of doing security audits decided to shut off access to the DevBlog until I finish working on the new style, which I should be able to launch next week.

But that's not what I wanted to talk about particularly. What I am wanting to talk about is a new term I found today, idiolect. It's not a term I'd ever heard of before, but oddly enough, its something I'm currently studying.

I'm reading Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October currently. I've had different comments about my particular writing style, both favorable and not-so-favorable, and I've mentioned in the past some disapproval at it myself at times. I hadn't known that he had written Red October until reading up some on him while playing Ghost Recon, nor that he was particularly a novel author in general (nor did I know that he had actually started the video game company that had made a lot of the work tied to his name). However it was interesting to find out that he actually didn't write any novels for the Splinter Cell series (one title using his name), which are instead written by several ghostwriters using a different pseudonym.

The primary job of a ghostwriter, of course, is to pass the writing off as someone else. That means mimicing their style of writing, sentence composition, and storytelling methods. In essence, the whole point is to write with someone else's idiolect. I've particularly found a few things so far about Tom Clancy's idiolect (at least as far as Red October is concerned), paying special attention to that while looking for some alterations to make to my own style. Each section is particularly focused on the point of view of one character, a particular trait that in some novels I've read in the past I haven't seen stuck to very well, although he does tend to throw in a random paragraph every so often from someone else's perspective around him. I'm also not particularly very far into the book but there's a lot of personal narrative in what I've seen so far, but that's likely just the side effect of it being early in the book and needing to explain the characters, and I expect it to taper off later.

I'll probably do another summary into the idiolect of this novel when I finish it, and other things into the topic in the future.



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Date: 13 Jun 2009 - 01:35
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Clean Code

While I wait for this function I just added to my map editor to finish I'll drop in here. Over the weekend I cleaned up all the code so this site is valid XHTML, and got mostly finished with the templates for the new AnacondaSoftware site. Just need to do some images for that design, and decide what content I want to use, and I can launch that. Might do that this weekend, might not until next week.

It really is very liberating to do website design these days, as opposed to back when I last did it regularly. Now that I can safely simply ignore IE6, my CSS doesn't have to be filled with hacks, my pictures can be nice PNGs instead of severely limited GIFs, and things will look the way I want them to. It was such a pain in the past, and I don't miss those days at all. Hooray for the rise of Firefox, and the internet moving forward into the age we have now.

It was the very beginning of 2006 when I last did major website developent work, employed for a short time for a small company here. At the time (rather, going off of 2005's year numbers since it was literally the beginning of 2006), which was before IE7 was released and just barely after the release of Firefox 1.5, Internet Explorer browser market share was 87%. Now, year to date put it at 67%, with Firefox a solid 22%, and Safari sitting at 8%. IE's still the dominant force, of course, because it comes installed with Windows, but the actual amount of that number that is IE6 is now only 18%.

As XP machines get rotated out with Vista (which includes IE7) and 7 (which includes IE8), and as education about alternative browsers grows, that will soon further vanish. The biggest hurdle still is corporate use, which has been slow to switch to Vista, but with upgrade cycles coming up and 7 looking a lot more favorable than Vista (because of Vista's bad press), and Mozilla's just announced upcoming project to allow corporations to deploy custom Firefox builds, that last hurdle should soon be passed.



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Date: 09 Jun 2009 - 19:59
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Cloudy

I've spent most of today working on cleaning up the site. I went through all the entries and fixed the bad characters from the Unicode conversion, and the dead links caused by turning on mod_rewrite and it not properly handling the old links.

But the bulk of the word was turning on tags for the blog. I had to edit the templates to add in the code for it, and then go through every single entry and add appropriate tags. I have altogether 43 tags currently. All the entries are tagged, although a few entries don't have all the tags they should, looking back through the tag list and forgetting about a few of them. I'll make another pass through it later, but for now it's good enough.

My next task will be cleaning up the templates so that the site can validate as XHTML 1.0 correctly again, as the little button on the left put there by the template designer indicates.



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Date: 06 Jun 2009 - 00:37
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Repeat Performance

Yes once again I'm here are play around with the Windows Vista speech recognition. And as the form of that in this article before posting a it'll just post the way comes out. Follow not really sure what she did allude to say in the central

I'm thinking that I might try doing some more work here with speech recognition, if bill wants the events on working on training at right now just goofing off early and I've come to know this that's my way of financing things actual a lot more on strange than they would force that. Time in after add another entry deal into this further, if lots fix what's delete that deletes that death to fifth in the tiff.  60th

That line failed. As I was saying, it's gonna need a lot of training. The above example makes that perfectly clear.  That is nowhere near what I actually said. And just to get it to get that last sentence correct, it took a great deal of effort. It will take some work I guess.



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Date: 04 Jun 2009 - 18:00
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