posts tagged with the keyword ‘interface’


Say goodbye to your mouse and keyboard.

The Leap Motion looks interesting. OK, it looks awesome. Sort of… I mean, I’m all for “new” interfaces for computers, but the whole “say goodbye to your mouse and keyboard” bit? I don’t buy it, and I don’t want to buy it. More accurate than a mouse? Again, I’m not convinced. And as for the “more natural” part of it, while it’s true I’ve been using my hands and fingers my entire life, I’ve been using a keyboard for more than 30 years, and a mouse for over 20 years, and at this point, it’s pretty damn natural. Nothing feels “unnatural” to me about using a keyboard and mouse. If something better comes along, I’d be happy to try it. The iPad does a really good job of using a touch interface, and for specific tasks, it’s wonderful, and much better than a keyboard and mouse, though I feel a lot of that has to do with how and where I use an iPad.

In the air

I’m not really sure how signing your name or writing in thin air is natural or better/easier that the alternatives. Sure, it looks like it could be fun, and I do see the possibilities for new things, but I made the joke(?) yesterday that what we really need is a method of using computers that requires us to keep our arms in the air for 10 hours a day. I know we should all use standing desks and be on the move, but I also really like sitting at a desk, supporting my arms, and using a keyboard and mouse. For the great majority of what I do with a computer, it works well.

Alright, with my complaining out of the way, I’ll heap on the praise now. I love this thing. The Leap Motion opens up some possibilities. We’ve played with 3D scanning using the Kinect and while it sort of works, it could be better. Hell, if the Leap Motion can do at least as good as the Kinect at 1/3rd the price, I’m sold. (Also, it’s not a Microsoft product, so it earns points there as well!) I can also see using the Leap Motion with Processing as a great physical computing device. Yeah, I’m excited. $70? That’s cheaper than some Logictech mice!

So while I’m not ready to ditch my keyboard and mouse yet, I can see some great possibilities in the Leap Motion. I’m not exactly ready to (pre-)order one yet, as it’s sort of vaporware at this point, and they don’t expect to ship until December 2012 or January 2013. That’s 7 to 8 months out, without any dates slipping. (Dev kits may be out in 1 to 3 months, so there’s a chance we may get a better idea of what it can really do at that point.) The pre-order thing makes it feel like a really long Kickstarter campaign, so I’m taking a “wait and see” approach on this. Things move fast, and who knows, within 6 months a competitor may come along with something better. Still, it’s damn interesting.


UI Apps

I wanted to mock up a control panel for a project (a real physical control panel, not a software control panel) and remembered that I had OmniGraffle on one of my machines, so I started with that. Unfortunately it appeared that it was a demo version and was limited to 20 objects.


OmniGraffle is a sweet application, and I considered buying it, but at $99 for an individual license, for an application I probably won’t use that much, I opted not to pursue it. (Oh, and I did think about just using Inkscape, but I thought it would be more fun to use a diagramming specific application for this project.)


I found Dia, an open source, multi-platform application for creating diagrams. Dia actually looks like a pretty nice application, and I do prefer open source when possible, but I also find X11 applications a bit clunky, and while I’ll keep an eye on Dia, it didn’t quite live up to what I wanted…


I ended up revisiting the Pencil Project, which I looked at last year, and I really like it. It’s a great application for mocking things up, and it even ties into one of my favorite sites,

Pencil Menus

The one annoying thing about Pencil is the menus. I’m using Mac OS X, and I’d like the menus to work as they do on Mac OS X, and these are just weird.

Here’s the output I got from each application. It should be mentioned, these are all rough, and by no means final. I really just wanted to quickly kick out a design from each application.

OmniGraffle Mockup
OmniGraffle Mockup

Dia Mockup
Dia Mockup

Pencil Mockup
Pencil Mockup

I’ll probably use Pencil moving forward and see how much I can push its capabilities. (And yes, it’s also open source and multi-platform, which is one more great thing about it.)


February is the month of the RPM Challenge. You know, record an album in a month… I’ve done it before, and was going to do it again, and to do it, I use a Behringer FCA202 FireWire audio interface.

Of course I also decided to upgrade to Snow Leopard this month, and for some odd reason, that rendered the FCA202 useless. It just wouldn’t show up anymore in the System Preferences as an audio input/output device. It did show up as a FireWire device though, so that was odd.

I ended up trying to replace the AppleFWAudio.kext kernel extension, zapped the PRAM, deleted cache files, removed audio units, different cables, using the power supply, tried logging in as another user, and on and on… I rebooted from my 10.5.8 backup and it showed up, so it must have been something specific to 10.6. I tried it on my MacBook Pro (10.6) and… it didn’t show up! Ugh, over to the Mac mini (10.6) and it showed up fine. I gave up for the night, convinced it was a 10.6 issue. The next day I tried it on a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro (both 10.6) and it worked, and then tried again on my MacBook Pro and it worked… so now it seemed that it was just the iMac I normally use to record to that wasn’t working. (I blame the “not working” on my MacBook Pro the night before to being tried/frustrated/bad cabling.)

I was pretty fed up by now, and sick of searching for possible solutions… I did find a post somewhere about the CoreAudio SDK and how it may install/updated the needed audio extensions to fix FireWire audio issues. One problem though, the CoreAudio SDK was last updated in 2005! But, the answer to that one was to install Xcode. I did that and like a little bit of magic, it worked.

System Preferences - Sound

So now I should be back in business, with the Behringer FCA202 showing up and selectable as an audio input/output device.

I wanted to blame Behringer for this weirdness, but honestly, it was something weird with my own Mac. I’m still not sure what it was, but I really should consider doing a clean install next time. My system has probably built up way too much cruft over the years.

Oh, and just a note… I’m not convinced this is the end of the issue. I left the Mac up and running last night, and this morning the Behringer disappeared again. But I’ve read that is can happen, and a quick unplug/replug of the unit fixes it. So… as long as that doesn’t happen while I’m recording, I may be ok. (This problem I’m more tempted to blame on Behringer…)


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