Tweaks and Improvements for Netbooks, Touch Screens, integrated graphics, and Windows 7 Starter

Netbooks are of especial interest for a metronome since they are so portable - much like a mobile device.

Touch screens are a wave of the future, I think. I expect more and more people will use them, in iPad like devices. Musicians will find them especially useful as the technology matures - as control surfaces, instruments etc - and will also want to run metronomes on them because they are so portable.

Some of these run Windows 7 so will be able to run Bounce Metronome fine.

So when I got a new netbook recently it was a great opportunity to test Bounce Metronome on it thoroughly - with this in mind - I got a touch screen one as well, with integrated graphics (which slows down 3D animations), so lots of things to work on.

This upload should help you if you have any of those types of device.

Low resolution screen tweaks

First, the netbook screen is only 600 pixels high, and that turned up a few minor bugs and issues to make it easier to use on a smaller screen.

Touch screen tweaks

Main one is  to disable gestures (only where appropriate of course) - which will make the on-screen keyboard much easier to play with a touch screen with finger or stylus (so far, just one note at a time) - and makes some of the graphic controls more responsive e.g. volume control or touch to skip beats. That's because with gestures disabled, it can respond immediately when you touch the screen rather than to wait and see if you are going to do a gesture before it does anything.

Also needed an easy way to hide / show parts in the 3D bounce window - the existing controls were too small and fiddly to use with a finger. So have added an extra control to the left with coloured blocks for each of the parts - and you can just click on it to hide or show the bouncing ball for the part, and simultaneously silence or play the part, all in one go.

This also gives a nice easy way to play the rhythmicon directly into the 3D window using a touch screen.

Windows 7 Starter tweaks

Then - in Windows 7 starter the graphics is done in a slightly different way from Aero - and it turned out the edge smoothing for the skin was really slow, made it less responsive - so have switched that off for that combination. Can still do edge smoothing for the tempo dial which is where it is most noticeable.

Integrated graphics tweaks

Then the 3D graphics was far to slow with the default settings. Low frame rate, hard to use as a visual metronome - it makes a big difference to have only integrated graphics rather than a graphics card.

This depends on the chip - some recent chips have integrated graphics with reasonable levels of 3D hardware acceleration built into them. But most of the budget ones will use software emulation for nearly everything 3D, and they can be really slow for some 3D graphics tasks. By way of example, Minecraft, which is a well optimised game and not that demanding of the graphics card by modern standards, is too slow to be easily playable on my brand new netbook with integrated graphics.

So have made a new "fast scene" preset - which is also what you get when first installed. Easy to switch to the more detailed rounded and textured scene. The fast scene uses 2D shapes bouncing in 3D and no textures, which looks fine on a small screen especially - and also looks fine on a larger screen too.

I think most musicians will be most interested in having the 3D graphics running as smoothly as possible and showing the beat as cripsly as possible - given the choice. But if you have a reasonably fast computer with either 3D accelerated integrated graphics or a dedicated graphics card - then you might prefer to switch to the more detailed scene.

This makes netbooks with integrated graphics and almost no 3D hardware acceleration still easily usable as a visual metronome in 3D .

Multi-touch

My new netbook will have multi-touch too once I update to Windows 7 Home Premium - so will be able to explore use of multi-touch in Bounce Metronome - e.g. for the on-screen keyboards - but that's for some future update, not yet properly tested (though I've done most of the coding for it already).

Also lots of minor bug fixes and improvements.

Get it here: Bounce Metronome Download Page

Details - see the Change Log and the Bug Fixes in the wiki