When I was a kid, a bunch of my friends had the same little musical toy. It was about a quarter of an inch thick, about the size of a smartphone; it featured a row of rubbery buttons which, when pressed, would play different notes on a scale. It was, essentially, a tiny, very primitive synthesizer.
It was the oddest little device: it could only play one note at a time, had no Off switch, and it came in a little sort of wallet thing with a cover that you could close when you weren’t using it. I never saw one on sale at a toy shop, either. It seemed to be something that only existed at my friends’ houses.
Well, last year, I did a bit of research. It turns out that the toy was called the Echo Electron, although it was actually sold under a variety of names. The reason that I never saw one in a toy store is that they were actually sold via mailorder. Go figure.
Even stranger is that it seems they’re still being made, although the packaging has changed slightly since the 80s. Needless to say, I had one shipped from China for the princely sum of $1.99. Here’s what it looks like:
It sounds exactly like I remembered: the notes all lasted the same amount of time, and the pitch wasn’t 100% constant. It would start one one note and slowly slide down a half step as it got softer and softer. As an instrument, it’s terrible. Ostensibly, the notes are supposed to form a major scale, but the pitches drift so terribly from one note to the next that by the time you reach the top of the scale, you are actually in a different key from where you were at the bottom.
Anyway, I opened it up, and plugged the little speaker wires directly into the audio jack of my sound card and recorded. Now, I’ve made multisamples (SFZ, Ableton 9.7, Kontakt 5.6) for those who wish to use them with their music software. I’ve done my best to tune the instrument so that it is in key, although that’s very difficult for an instrument that doesn’t hold its pitch (you may find yourself adjusting some of the samples by hand as needed.) What else? I’ve added polyphony, and I’ve also expended the key range so that you are not limited to the major scale that the actual instrument plays.
OK. That’s it. Enjoy!
The littleBits Korg Synth Kit sounds great, but it’s exceedingly hard to use for musical purposes because its oscillators don’t stay in tune for more than a few minutes at a time. After a few frustrating afternoons of trying to record a synth lead with this thing, I decided the only way that I would be able to use it is if I created a multisample out of it.
Here’s what the waveforms look like:
So…after painstakingly tuning each one, I sampled each note over six octaves, set loop points, then turned it into a multisample.
- Three formats: SFZ, Native Instruments Kontakt 5.1, and Ableton Live 9.1 (Simpler).
- Recorded in 96khz, 16-bit using a high-end audio interface
- Seemless waveform looping
- Recorded without lowpass filter (add your own software filters within Ableton, SFZ plugin, or Native Instruments Kontakt)
- Control envelope within SFZ, Ableton or Native Instruments Kontakt
- Both littleBits waveforms: sawtooth and square wave
- 5+ octaves
- Allows for polyphony (which the actual synth kit does not)
- Responds to velocity (which the actual synth kit does not)
- Ableton instrument responds to pitch bend and mod wheel (which actual synth kit does not)
If you make a cool track using these samples, post it in the comments here!
Decidedly is proud to announce that our flagship iOS/Android game, Floyd’s Worthwhile Endeavor, has just gone live on the Apple TV store. If you have a new Apple TV, you should definitely check it out!
FriendRetweet is a command-line PHP script that allows you to automatically retweet the most popular tweets of the people you’re following. Each time it is run, the app will scan your users home timeline and find the most popular tweet since the last time it was run. It will then retweet that tweet.
Download the script here: https://github.com/Decidedly/FriendRetweet
- Create a Twitter app for yourself at https://apps.twitter.com. Make sure you create an access token and set your permissions to read-write as well.
php composer install
cp config/example.config config/username.config
- Configure the app as follows:
Config Key Description
Your Twitter consumer key
Your Twitter consumer secret
Your Twitter access token
Your Twitter access token secret
Your numeric Twitter User id.
A path to the file where your user’s data will be stored. These files don’t generally get very big.
A value of true causes native tweets, a values of false causes us to simply tweet the same text as the source tweet.
Running the App
From the command-line, type this:
php FriendRetweet.php --config configs/username.config
Decidedly is proud to announce our first version of Floyd’s Worthwhile Endeavor for Android and Amazon FireTV!
- A new game element: Parrots! See the parrots in the following levels: 2, 3, 4, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 33, 36, 37, 41, 42, 47, 48, 50.
- Tons of bug fixes in this release: better controls, graphics tweaks.
- External controller support should be a bit more solid
- That’s right, if you have an Amazon FireTV you can now play Floyd’s Worthwhile Endeavor in your living room.
A brand new version of Floyd has been released!
Here’s what’s new:
- A new game element: Moving platforms!
- Ten new levels (41 through 50)!
- A new background music song (hear it in levels 41, 42, and 46)!
- Two gorgeous new level backgrounds
- A counter on the main screen that shows your total number of hats
- Finding Floyd slips off those platforms a little too easily? Now, you can reduce his running speed by changing the “Controller Sensitivity” setting in the “Settings” dialog. (More virtual gamepad settings on the way.)
- If you are a GameCenter user, your game progress should now sync across all of your devices.
- Ghost hats! These turn Floyd into ghost for short amounts of time. Useful for sneaking past dangerous animals such as…
- Packs of vicious dogs. Watch out!
- Ten more levels!
- Intro animation with voices
- When Floyd gets three ribbons at the end of a level, we can now hear Muybridge say “Well done, my boy!”
- It’s no longer possible for Floyd to continue running when he falls off the bottom of the screen.
- Floyd now longer dies twice when he gets bitten by a dog and then falls off a cliff.
- The game should now work for iOS 5.0 users again (sorry!)
- Build 2680: Game has been built 658 times since last revision (11 days ago). That’s an average of 59 builds a day.
A new version of Floyd has made its way to the App Store.
- Added a brand new game element: springboards!
- Ten new levels featuring springboards!
- Floyd now dies when he rides an elephant off a cliff.
- The controller selection box now only shows up for new, new players.
- Mid-air half jumps are no longer possible.
- Turned external controller sensitivity down a little bit.
- The green bamboo background is gone in favor of a darker, lettucey green artwork.
- Lowered games file size by 10MB.
- Added a brand new Intro Scene before the first level that explains a bit about Floyd’s mission
- Added GameCenter integration
- Added Achievements
- Added a new option for controlling Floyd: Virtual gamepad!
- Game is now fully compatible with the new SteelSeries Stratus wireless gamepad
- Physics update: Floyd doesn’t start off running quite as fast
- Stone blocks can no longer knock Floyd off of an elephants back.
- Elephants now start off facing the right direction
- Minor updates to levels 2, 3, 17, 18, and 19 to make them more fun.
- It should now be easier to control Floyd in touch mode on an iPad
- Touching an ostrich while jumping on a rope bridge no longer robs Floyd of the ability to jump forever.
- Build 2022: Game has been built 261 times since last revision (7 days ago). That’s an average of 37.29 builds a day.
Here are the highlights of this release:
- Five new types of hats!
- Elephants are less dangerous: they can only kill you when you then are walking towards you.
- Better memory usage
- New help text in Level 1
- Bug Fix: Floyd no longer falls through rope bridges
- Build 1201: Game has been built 358 times since last revision (11 days ago). That’s an average of 32.5 builds a day.
- Email support (at) decided.ly with bug reports or use the contact form on this site.