Subject: MAX Digest - 5 Feb 1999 to 6 Feb 1999 (#1999-45)
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 00:00:00 -0500
From: Automatic digest processor 
Reply-To: MAX - Interactive Music/Multimedia Standard Environments
To: Recipients of MAX digests 

There are 12 messages totalling 509 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

  1. cycle~ phase init, curve~ bug
  2. MAX, the hard way (2)
  3. begin~ again
  4. window frames in 8.5, speed
  5. Shepard Scales
  6. Attach an non-USB floppy drive to your iMAC
  7. Copyright of MAX Patches and Objects (2)
  8. Max Newbie Advice Please (2)
  9. overdrive message to Max


Date:    Fri, 5 Feb 1999 21:58:25 -0800
From:    David Zicarelli 
Subject: Re: cycle~ phase init, curve~ bug

Simon Gatrall  writes:

>I have been wrestling with cycle~ for a couple of days and I've come to the
>conclusion that it is missing a very basic feature: the abilty to reset the
>phase.  Even though the right inlet is supposed to set the phase, I can't
>trigger the phase where I want.  Sure you can set the phase relative to
>another cycle~, but you can't trigger (with an int message) the phase
>absolutely.  Am I missing something?

Yes you are. The following use of the phase inlet with the phasor~ object
fed into cycle~ demonstrates a simple way to set the phase
of a waveform absolutely.

max v2;
#N vpatcher 50 40 450 340;
#P toggle 260 113 15 0;
#P newex 260 140 29 196617 dac~;
#P user scope~ 56 140 186 270 256 3 128 -1. 1. 0 0. 0 0.;
#P message 220 40 14 196617 0;
#P message 186 40 14 196617 1;
#P newex 186 67 44 196617 phasor~;
#P newex 56 104 140 196617 cycle~;
#P connect 0 0 4 0;
#P connect 2 0 1 0;
#P connect 1 0 0 1;
#P connect 3 0 1 1;
#P connect 6 0 5 0;
#P pop;

Why doesn't this work in the cycle~ object directly? Because
the float message to cycle~ accumulates phase. In other words,
if you send it a 0, it will jump to ensure that the beginning
of the waveform, given its current idea of where it is
relative to the start of time, happens at 0. This lets you offset
the phase of one cycle~ object relative to other cycle~ objects. If
this isn't what you want, you have to set the phase in a more primitive
way, which is what the phase inlet of phasor~ can do for you.

>I have also found what looks like a bug in the curve~ object (I'm using it
>as an envelope).  It will jump to a value instantly (ie in one sample), or
>it will slew over a time in multiple milliseconds, but it will not work if
>the time value is 1-4 ms.  Why?

curve~ definitely appears to have some problems with short ramp times.
Even as long as 50ms. You can see the problem if you record the
curve~ output into a buffer~. I'll look into fixing it.

David Z.


Date:    Fri, 5 Feb 1999 22:09:31 -0800
From:    David Zicarelli 
Subject: Re: MAX, the hard way

Sukandar Kartadinata  writes:

>Today I was asked (yet again) if I could build a box that can run MAX/msp
>patches w/o a Mac, so I thought it's about time to post this proposal /

Rather than question the list, you might wish to question the
person who asked you to build the box. What exactly is bothering
them about running software on a personal computer? Often
people fetishize specialized hardware devices as being
more reliable or in some way specially suited to the particular
purpose they have in mind. I'm a software person, so my
bias is toward never having to buy another "1 rackspace unit" with
a crappy outdated-the-moment-it-was-specified embedded microprocessor
in it running software that will never be updated. Reliability
is a function of experience. A few years ago, the simple
software in a Studio 4 interface would mysteriously write its
memory due to a an obscure hardware design flaw...there was some
discussion about it here.

You look at a box and you can't see a screen that shows you
a dialog box that says, "Sorry, a system error occurred" and
you think it can never crash. Wrong. It's still a computer
running software. It's just that the software inside one of
these boxes is usually so stupid that in our experience it's harder
to get it to crash.

If you want to run something as complicated as Max/MSP inside of
one of these boxes, it's not automatically going to be more
reliable just because the box is black on the outside.

David Z.


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 03:55:46 -0500
From:    Stephen Kay 
Subject: MAX, the hard way

>the basic idea:
>build a dedicated DSP-Box (or maybe use something existing) and write a
>cross-compiler to fuel it with MAX/msp patches from a Mac (or, well, PC)=

With all due respect, asking such a question indicates fairly well
a lack of experience with modern-day embedded systems technology (I'm
not talking about do-it-yourself sensor devices).

>3. Why is this insane ?

I have been well down the path of turning a specific MAX
originated application into an embedded systems application.

First of all, the idea of a "Max to embedded whatever" compiler
is absurd.  Embedded systems have compilers that are very expensive,
(i.e. $5000 or more per copy).  Not many people buy these, and
you need a different compiler for every embedded set of chips.
If you want to compile for 8051, 8052 etc., you need a different
compiler than for the Phillips XA.  They support generally plain,
vanilla C, or perhaps pascal (or Unix).  Some of the more modern
ones will now support C++.  And assembly language skills come in

However, Max is this abstract, high level
language that kind of sits on top of C.  You would need a specially
written compiler to take a Max patcher and somehow derive plain
vanilla C from it, before it could be compiled on any embedded
platform.  As we've discussed in the past (when we get all dreamy-
eyed over the prospect of actually compiling a Max app into pure
C code), this is virtually impossible/unimagineable.

Most of my application was already in C.  In order to get it to
work on an embedded platform, it was necessary to rewrite anything
that still had anything to do with max in C before we could move
forward.  In other words, the only way to get from Max to an
embedded chip was to remove and rewrite everything Max-like in
the application in C (or assembly language).

Another problem with embedded systems is that the memory requirements
must be very carefully mapped out, and are usually very specifically
tied to a particular application - not a general purpose sort of
thing at all.

The only possible benefit to this is cost.  For example, the
appplication I devised could be coded onto a 16-bit embedded
chip costing about $9. Total cost of embedded system with
boards and all support electronics around $50.  However, let
us not forget the approximately $40,000 - $80,000 of engineering
resources which went into porting this thing to an embedded

Once again, this is a special purpose embedded system (which is
generally what all embedded systems are) which only has one
purpose and runs one specific application.  A general purpose
MaxPlay/MSPPlay embedded system such as you are suggesting
already exists.  It's called an iMac.  Disconnect the screen
and it's even a "black box" (well, maybe a blue box).

I agree with David Z.:
>Rather than question the list, you might wish to question the
>person who asked you to build the box. What exactly is bothering
>them about running software on a personal computer?

Stephen Kay


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 01:35:13 -0800
From:    dudas 
Subject: Re: begin~ again

Hans Tutschku writes:
>I'm remembering the same problem and got last year a "global" advise from
>Richard D.
>to not putting MSP-objects in bpatchers.
>Since I'm using just patchers, I don't have problems to switch on and of
>any MSP-object.
>hope this helps
>Richard - can you confirm????

I confirm only that I still superstitiously believe in Max voodoo!!

I think Les Stuck has used msp externals in bpatchers without problems in
the synth~ patches in the msp examples folder, no? (but I can't recall if
he does any switching on and off using mute~ or whatever.)

My personal philosophy has always been the very obvious: if something
doesn't work, report the problem to the list and try doing it another way.
(as has been done in this case)

Sorry I'm not much help.



Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 12:01:49 +0100
From:    Jeffrey Burns 
Subject: window frames in 8.5, speed

Hi Maxites,

Just installed 8.5.1 and found that I can't get rid of the platnum window
frames, which interfere with my multimedia setup. Apparently, a
non-platinum frame has to be installed in the Themes folder. Anybody know
where I can get one?

BTW the new OS sped up quickdraw functions by about 50%, as the code is now
completely native. Speed Doubler had previously boosted quickdraw by about
30%, and now it continues to give the same increase over the quickdraw
speed of the new system.

Incedentally, I read that SGI is soon going to support Windows NT. Does
that mean that we all have to start saving up for a Silicon Graphics

Jeff Burns


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 14:07:38 +0100
From:    Jean Paul Laurent 
Subject: Re: Shepard Scales

On Thu, 4 Feb 1999, Jost Muxfeldt wrote:

>I am getting error messages when trying to access this link. is this
>address correct?
>> ------------------------------
>> Date:    Wed, 3 Feb 1999 20:20:35 -0500
>> From:    Otto Henry 
>> Subject: Shepard Scales
>> Documentation  and information on Shepard Scales can be viewed at:

The correct url is:

Greetings,  Jean Paul


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 17:31:18 +0100
From:    Peter Castine 
Subject: Re: Attach an non-USB floppy drive to your iMAC

On around 5-2-99 3:22, Ken Gregory said something like:

>The Feb 99 issue of MacAddict details a hardware hack which allows a
>standard Mac 3.5 SuperDrive to used with the iMac. The motherboard has the
>hardware, power supply and a 20 pin slot all ready for use. The system has
>all the sodtware drivers need.

Anyone know if there is a similar trick for the new G3s?

Might even be warranty-safe. Dunno.




Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 17:31:28 +0100
From:    Peter Castine 
Subject: Re: Copyright of MAX Patches and Objects

On around 5-2-99 7:57, dudas said something like:

>Vincent Puig writes:
>>Most of the MAX Patches distributed by Ircam on the Forum Ircam cds are
>>public domain but it is safer to check with their authors or on the
>>documentation for re-distribution rights (especially if commercial).
>>MSP patches and objects distributed on the Forum Ircam cds are licensed to
>>Forum members only (with rights (like other Forum Ircam software) to use
>>them in education, research and music production (no limitations on paying
>>or not paying activities)). Re-distribution right is free (and encouraged)
>>to Forum members only. Out of the Forum users need a Forum license (or
>>membership as we call it).
>Clarification of the second paragraph:
>MSP patches and objects which are part of the public domain max/msp patch &
>external collection (i.e. those which can be found on the public ftp site
> are also in the public domain and thus the
>rules of the first paragraph probably apply.

Clarification of the clarification: stuff found at IRCAM's anonymous FTP
site are not all in the Public Domain. Leastaways, I _never_ put any of
my stuff in PD; most of the other stuff there is, TTBOMK, also under
copyright. The copyright holders have, however, given permission to
distribute the materials freely and (for the most part) permission to use.

Richard, Vincent, everybody: there is a difference between Public Domain
and "Copyright with cost-free licence." Particularly under French
copyright law (I should think--continental European copyright legislation
and practice is much more author-friendly than the Anglo-American

Richard, Vincent: I was not aware of any requirement that materials be
put in the public domain when submitted to the IRCAM FTP server. I think
I would not be the only software developer with serious reservations
about such a requirement. My work _is_ freely distributable, and the
licence is free of charge, but there are some (very minimal) restrictions
on use (all documented in the "Read Me"s). But that ain't PD.



PS: The term "Anglo-American" is here used in the European, rather than
the American, sense.


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 17:31:25 +0100
From:    Peter Castine 
Subject: Re: Max Newbie Advice Please

On around 5-2-99 5:24, D. Studen said something like:

>Greetings to all Max gurus.  Please enlighten a longtime lurker as to
>the best way to proceed in learning MAX from the ground up.  I
>originally purchased MAX about 5 or so years ago and it came with a
>large black binder manual (still in the box, Ive been to busy I guess).
>Question, is this big black thing still the best way for a beginner to
>learn?  Considering the fact that at the time MAX was at version 2.1,
>I'm a little unsure if it is still valid.  if not, where and how do I go
>about getting updated documentation?  Keep in mind I want to begin the
>learning process with the CURRENT version of the application.  Are there
>3rd party instructional manuals available?

3rd Party: there is a Japanese book available. I can dig up the ordering
information. How fluent is your Japanese?

Otherwise, no. Max' market is too small, I don't think any
English-language publisher would carry a _Max for Dummies_ (or even a
_Max for Half-Way Intelligent People_).

I found the Max tutorial very useful, although there were a couple of
mistakes (discrepancies between what the tutorial said patches would do
and what they actually did, things like that). If you have some
experience with computers and maybe a little programming, these anomalies
shouldn't trip you up. If you're a real beginner, you may stumble.

You should consider upgrading to the current Max version. I don't know if
2.1 will even run with OS 8.5 (or even 8.0).

>Also, is it possible to study/learn MAX while traveling, say w/a
>powerbook on a plane or something?

Yes, if your carrier allows you to turn your PB on in-flight.-)

>Is there a way to use the quicktime
>MIDI instruments and some type of onboard midi controller or something?
>I think it would be awkward to carry an 88 note controller and module as
>carry on luggage  :)

Clarence Barlow used to carry around a MIDI module smaller than his Atari
Stacy when he was travelling. Sorry, I forget who made the thing. But,
yes, current Max versions will talk to QT MIDI quite happily (that's what
OMS is there for, among other things), and there's not much your MIDI
controller can do that you can't emulate with the PB keyboard. However,
you'll learn more about Max by hooking up number boxes and by printing to
the Max window. You may notice that the Max tutorial doesn't touch MIDI
until about the 6th unit. This is not a coincidence. Max is first and
foremost a programming language. It happens to have a rich set of
primitives for dealing with MIDI. But you don't need MIDI to learn the
programming language. Not really. You need MIDI when you need to learn
how to program MIDI. Is this clear?

Clear as mud? Try this: programming Max and programming MIDI are two
different things. You can _use_ Max to program MIDI. Now ask yourself
what you need to learn: Programming Max, programming MIDI, or both (or
none of the above... go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200...).
Then you can decide whether you need to worry about competing with
in-flight entertainment (the flight attendants are just gonna _love_ your
experimenting with Max & MIDI midway between Sacremento and Perth).

Hope this helps,



Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 14:23:28 -0500
From:    Stephen Kay 
Subject: Re: Copyright of MAX Patches and Objects

>I seem to recall that this dilemma can be solved by saving the patch for=

>the composition as a collective with the ircam modules embedded in the
>collective and/or make a standalone application from the patch.  That wa=
>the composition could be distributed to performers, although the
>modules would not be accessable for potentially unauthorised re-use. =

>should be no problem distributing what you make using the forum msp
>objects, as long as you do not re-distribute the forum objects themselve=
>I believe Stephen Kay's Mega Max externals have a similar license.
>Please correct me if I am wrong.
-Richard Dudas

I can't speak for IRCAM, but you are correct with regards to the MegaMAX
Collection.  One can freely distribute collectives and applications
using the MegaMAX objects (for commercial/non-commercial use); but one
cannot distribute the objects themselves.  However, in my case I very
specifically created a "system" whereby these objects cannot be extracted=

from collectives or applications in a "useable" from. As people know
by now, any object (or even patcher or locked patcher, thanks to David Z)=

can be "extracted" from a collective or application if you know how to do=

I spent quite a bit of time originally coming up with a way to render suc=
extracted objects inoperable.

Stephen Kay


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 14:33:09 +0000
From:    Ed Hartley 
Subject: Re: Max Newbie Advice Please

Peter Castine wrote:

> Clarence Barlow used to carry around a MIDI module smaller than his Atari
> Stacy when he was travelling. Sorry, I forget who made the thing. But,
> yes, current Max versions will talk to QT MIDI quite happily (that's what
> OMS is there for, among other things),

I've got this little Yamaha GM box, the MU-5, I think. It's about the size
of a video cassette, plugs right into your serial port, and it runs on a
nine-volt. It sounds pretty cheesy, but it does the job. If your laptop can
handle Quicktime (my old PB 165 could, barely), then that's an even better

Ed Hartley


Date:    Sat, 6 Feb 1999 18:51:17 -0500
From:    Marcel Wierckx 
Subject: overdrive message to Max

Hi Maxters,

Is there a message to Max for turning overdrive on or off? I know this has
been addressed previously on the list, but I wasn't able to find anything on
the Max digest archive or in the manuals.


Marcel Wierckx


End of MAX Digest - 5 Feb 1999 to 6 Feb 1999 (#1999-45)